Black College Baseball Tabs Defending MEAC Champion Bethune-Cookman As Preseason No. 1 Team

By Tony McClean
Updated: January 19, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — While the weather outside your window may say it’s still winter, it’s never too soon to talk about baseball. Especially when we’re talking about black college baseball.

This past Tuesday, Black College released its preseason polls for the upcoming season. The defending MEAC champs, Bethune-Cookman, are the preseason choice as the No. 1 team in Division I
Bethune-Cookman (30-27) tied for the Black College Baseball title last season alongside Prairie View A&M, No. 2 in the preseason poll. The Panthers (33-22), who had a dream season in 2006, fell just short of an NCAA upset bid against Rice University.
The Panthers have also been tabbed as the favorites to win the SWAC title as well. PVAM will be led by righthander Wrandel Taylor, the SWAC’s Pitcher of the Year in 2006. The 5-foot-11 Taylor was 10-2 with 90 strikeouts and a 3.99 ERA in 22 appearances
The remaining top five include SWAC opponents Southern University (26-20) at No. 3 and Alcorn State (26-21) at No. 4. Independent Savannah State (30-19) rounds out the rest of BCB’s top five.
The Wildcats rolled through the MEAC last year with an unprecedented 15-0 mark during the regular season.They went on to complete their perfect conference run with three wins in the MEAC Tournament to capture the 2006 MEAC crown in Norfolk, Va.
In the process, the Wildcats tied Howard’s record back in 1998 as the only teams in MEAC history to go 15-0. BCC was also picked to finish atop the MEAC by Black College Baseball, though the MEAC’s official preseason poll won’t be released until later this month.

This season, the Wildcats return an overabundance of talented players, as well as bringing in two Junior College All-American talents. The Wildcats may have one of the best hitting teams they’ve had in years, according to B-CC head coach Mervyl Melendez … as well as some of his best pitching in recent memory with all but one starter returning on the mound.
The MEAC and SWAC also dominate the second half of BCB’s top ten. Mississippi Valley State (24-32) is sixth, North Carolina A&T (22-36) is seventh, Norfolk State (23-28) is eighth, Jackson State (22-17) is ninth, and Texas Southern (19-30) is tenth.

The Aggies are returning 16 starters from a team that was 6-12 in MEAC play. All-American Jeremy Jones, the 2005 MEAC Player of the Year returns alongside 2007 Wallace Watch candidate third baseman Charlie Gamble and outfielder Joe McIntyre, who finished second in the MEAC in hitting with a .371 average last season.
In BCB’s Division II, III, and NAIA preseason rankings, West Virginia State (45-9-1) of the WVIAC was tabbed as the top squad followed by SIAC opponents MIles College (27-9) and Benedict College (23-15).
(Records are from 2006 season)
Rank, School Record
1. Bethune-Cookman 30-27
2. Prairie View A&M 33-22
3. Southern University 26-20
4. Alcorn State 26-21
5. Savannah State 30-19
6. Mississippi Valley State 24-32
7. North Carolina A&T 22-36
8. Norfolk State 23-28
9. Jackson State 22-17
10. Texas Southern 19-30

(Records are from 2006 season)
Rank, School Record
1. West Virginia State 45-9-1
2. Miles College 27-9
3. Benedict College 23-15
4. Huston Tillotson 24-20
5. Virginia State 17-13
6. Elizabeth City State 20-14
7. Shaw University 20-20
8. Lincoln (Mo.) University 21-31
9. Harris Stowe State College 19-27
10. LeMoyne Owen 14-11
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