FRISCO, Texas — Sam Houston State is favored to defend its Southland Conference regular-season baseball championship by a vote of the league’s coaches and sports information directors, the conference announced Wednesday.

The Bearkats were the overwhelming favorites in the both the coaches’ and SID polls, receiving eight first-place votes and 138 points from the coaches and eight first-place votes and 137 points from the SIDs. Sam Houston returns 16 letterwinners, five starters and nine pitchers from a squad that won its third consecutive regular-season title.

Among the returning players are 2014 first-team all-conference selections senior outfielders Colt Atwood and Hayden Simerly. Sam Houston, which finished the 2014 season with a 43-19 overall record, went 22-8 in conference play, recording its third consecutive 20-win season in conference.

The coaches and SIDs were in agreement on second through fourth place. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is slated to finish second in both polls, compiling 128 points and four first–place votes form the coaches and 130 points and two first–place votes from the SIDs.

Southeastern Louisiana is picked to finish third in both polls with each poll offering one first-place vote for the 2014 Southland Conference Tournament champions. The Lions are returning 20 letterwinners including nine pitchers from the championship squad.

Northwestern State is listed to end the season in fourth place receiving 109 points from the coaches and 108 points from the SIDs including two first-place votes. The Demons return 22 letterwinners from their third-place squad including five starting pitchers.

The coaches selected Nicholls to end the season in fifth place with 98 points while the SIDs had the Colonels set to finish seventh with 85 points. Nicholls completed the 2014 season with a 33-26 record and 21-10 in Southland action for a second-place seeding leading into the tournament.

McNeese State finished fifth in the SID poll with 91 points while the coaches voted the Cowboys to finish sixth with 90 points. McNeese State tallied a 30-28 overall record and 17-13 Southland mark in 2014 and went 2-2 in the conference tournament. The team returns 17 letterwinners including six pitchers.

SLC preseason polls


RightAlign.1201. Sam Houston State (8): 138

2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (4): 128

3. Southeastern Louisiana (1): 115

4. Northwestern State: 109

5. Nicholls State: 98

6. McNeese State: 90

7. Central Arkansas: 89

8. Lamar: 77

9. Stephen F. Austin: 49

10. Houston Baptist: 48

11. Abilene Christian: 27

12. Incarnate Word: 26

13. UNO: 20

RightAlign.120Sports information directors

RightAlign.1201. Sam Houston State (8): 137

2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2): 130

3. Southeastern Louisiana (1): 119

4. Northwestern State (2): 108

5. McNeese State: 91

6. Central Arkansas: 90

7. Nicholls State: 85

8. Lamar: 79

9. Stephen F. Austin: 52

10. Houston Baptist: 50

11. Abilene Christian: 28

12. Incarnate Word: 26

13. UNO: 20