UH baseball picked to finish 5th in WAC
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Western Athletic Conference's newest coach and newest team will have a lot of incentive when the baseball season opens.
The University of Hawai'i, under first-year coach Mike Trapasso, was picked to finish fifth in the six-team WAC, in a vote by the conference coaches, the conference announced yesterday. Newcomer Louisiana Tech was picked to finish last.
"It's where we belong," Trapasso said. "We haven't done anything to merit being picked higher than that. With a new coaching staff, this is year one of a building process. That's where we're seen and shows where we need to go."
The Rainbows finished sixth in the seven-team conference last year with a 16-20 record (29-27 overall).
Defending champion Rice, ranked 11th in Baseball America's preseason Top 25, received five of six votes to repeat. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their teams.
"I don't think there's any question because of what they did the last seven, eight years," Trapasso said of Rice's predicted finish.
Fresno State, which was second last year, is picked to finish the same.
Nevada, picked to place third, had the other first-place vote. San Jose State was predicted to finish fourth.
The conference has six teams, down one from last year, with the losses of Texas Christian, which moved to Conference USA, and UH-Hilo, an affiliate member that was not retained. The addition of Louisiana Tech kept the net loss at one.
Coaches also voted for a 15-player preseason All-WAC team. Senior first baseman Gregg Omori was the only Rainbow chosen. Despite being one of the top hitters in the WAC, Omori was not named to either the first or second teams of last year's postseason all-WAC selections.
"He's not only an All-WAC," Trapasso said. "He'll probably be in contention for Player of the Year."
Coaches predicted Rice third baseman Hunter Brown as Player of the Year and Fresno State's Bob Runyon as Pitcher of the Year.
In other news, the video screen portion of the new scoreboard at Les Murakami Stadium was installed yesterday. The scoreboard part was installed Monday.
"They just have to work on the electrical things," Trapasso said. "It looks great."
UH opens Jan. 30 with a four-game series against nationally ranked Florida State.
(First-place votes in parenthesis)
Rk. School Pts.
1. Rice (5) 25
2. Fresno St. 20
3. Nevada (1) 18
4. San Jose St. 13
5. Hawai'i 8
6. Louisiana Tech 6