PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast will start the 2019 baseball season sitting at 14th in the NJCAA Division II Rankings.
"It's great recognition for our guys," Bulldogs coach Rodney Batts said. "Any time you start off in a preseason ranking, it means a lot. Somebody thinks we're pretty good, so we've got a lot to live up to."
Gulf Coast was ranked 18th in the final regular-season poll last year. The Bulldogs finished 36-16 and finished third at the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament, knocked out by eventual national champion LSU Eunice.
LSU-E starts the season atop the poll. Two other MACJC schools are in the rankings: Meridian (4th) and Pearl River (8th)
In addition to facing the two MACJC teams, Gulf Coast opens the season against Jefferson College, which is ranked fifth in the Division I poll. The doubleheader Feb. 9 starts at noon at Ken "Curly" Farris Field.
"We've got a really tough schedule, so it's gonna be hard to hold onto that ranking," Batts said. "But hopefully our guys see that and it's encouragement for them."
Gulf Coast has 14 home dates on the schedule. Season tickets and chairback seats can be purchased at http://mgcccbulldogs.com/tickets.
The Bulldogs return NJCAA Player of the Year Brandon Parker, who set a school record with 24 home runs, as well as 12 other sophomores. The ranking certain reflects on the returning talent.
"It's respect for our program, but what everybody knows is it's based on last year, really," Batts said. "We've got a lot of those guys back, but now we have to live up to that."
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