Creighton has several key contributors to replace from last year’s NCAA regional squad, but the Jays were still selected to repeat as Big East champs in a tightly contested preseason coaches poll.
The league announced the results of the vote Wednesday.
Creighton finished one point ahead of Seton Hall, St. John’s and Xavier, who all tied for second. The Pirates actually received three first-place votes. Creighton got two, but the Bluejays tallied the most total votes (29 points) from the seven conference coaches.
Senior designated hitter Ryan Mantle and sophomore outfielder Jared Wegner were the two Creighton players named to the 16-member preseason All-Big East team. Senior outfielder Parker Upton, who hit .324 last year, also is set to return.
Creighton is replacing its top three hitters, its closer and all three of its weekend starters from a year ago.
But the Jays are coming off a season in which they finished 41-13. They won both the Big East regular-season and tournament crowns. They snapped a seven-year NCAA tournament drought. They were one win away from their first super regional berth.
Creighton coach Ed Servais will begin his 17th campaign next spring. Preseason practice opens in a month and CU’s first game is set for Feb. 14 at Seattle.
Big East preseason poll
1. Creighton (2) — 29 points
T-2. Seton Hall (3) — 28 points
T-2. St. John’s (1) — 28 points
T-2. Xavier — 28 points
5. Butler — 14 points
6. Villanova — 11 points
7. Georgetown — 9 points
Player of the year: St. John’s senior outfielder Mike Antico
Pitcher of the year: Butler junior RHP Connor Schultz
All-Big East team
C: Xavier senior Natale Monastra
1B: Seton Hall senior Matt Toke
2B: Xavier junior Ryan Altenberger
SS: Xavier sophomore Jack Housinger
3B: Georgetown junior Eddie McCabe
DH: Creighton senior Ryan Mantle
OF: St. John’s senior Mike Antico
OF: Seton Hall senior Tyler Shedler-McAvoy
OF: Creighton sophomore Jared Wegner
P: Butler junior RHP Connor Schultz
P: Seton Hall senior RHP Noah Thompson
P: Villanova sophomore RHP Nick LoRusso
P: St. John’s senior LHP Nick Mondak
P: Villanova sophomore RHP Gordon Graceffo
P: Seton Hall sophomore RHP David Festa
P: Xavier sophomore RHP Lane Flamm