SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After putting together a successful 2013 campaign and adding another solid recruiting class, the UC Santa Barbara Baseball team was included in Collegiate Baseball's 2014 Preseason Poll at the No. 39 spot, it was announced Friday morning.
Reinforcing their schedule as one of the toughest in the nation, the Gauchos will play seven teams who made the cut in the preseason rankings, including both of the top teams.
Over the course of the season, UCSB will play host to top-ranked Cal State Fullerton, No. 10 North Carolina State, defending national champion and fifteenth-ranked UCLA, and No. 34 Wichita State.
On the road, the Gauchos will face off against No. 2 Mississippi State, UCLA, No. 24 Arizona, and No. 27 Cal Poly.
Overall, UCSB's 2014 opponents have combined for 73 appearances in the College World Series and 12 National Championships, while six of the Gauchos' upcoming foes were participants in last season's NCAA tournament.
Last year, Coach Checketts' squad went on a late-season hot run – going 16-6 to close out the regular season – to clinch a share of second place in the Big West and a trip to the NCAA Regionals. Both were firsts for the program since the 2002 season.
The 2014 roster is set to return the entire rotation from last year, as well as the back end of the bullpen and seven starting position players. Another year of development from 2013 standouts such as Joey Epperson, Woody Woodward, Austin Pettibone, and Dylan Hecht will augment the contributions from promising newcomers like Brody Weiss, Josh Adams, Dempsey Grover, and Shane Bieber.