FRISCO, Texas – The University of Central Arkansas Bears were the second choice in the Southland Conference preseason baseball poll released by the league office on Thursday.

UCA received 247 total points and five first-place votes among the league’s coaches and sports information directors.

Sam Houston State, with 276 points and 17 first-place votes, was the top pick for the third consecutive season.

Just four points separates the No. 2-4 teams in the preseason poll as reigning tournament champion McNeese followed UCA in third with a single first-place nod and 244 points.

Southeastern Louisiana came in just one point behind the Cowboys and earned three first-place votes.

Both the Bears and the Lions are coming off 19-11 Southland records, while McNeese finished 16-14 in league play in 2019.

UCA and McNeese tied with five preseason All-Southland selections as was announced Tuesday.

The Bears finished as the SLC Tournament runner-up to the Cowboys last May at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas.

It was UCA’s fourth appearance in the SLC championship game since 2013.

The 2020 season begins Feb. 14, with 15 games featuring SLC teams, including UCA hosting Missouri State for a three-game series at Bear Stadium.

Southland preseason polls are voted on by each program’s head coach and sports information director.

Individuals rank the conference’s other 12 teams in predicted order of regular season finish, with first-place votes worth 12 points, second-place votes worth 11 points down to one point for 12th place.

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