Writers Rank Tide Baseball 28th

Is Alabama baseball being underrated? Maybe not. After all, the Crimson Tide lost its entire infield, first base to third base, and a top pitcher from last year's squad. On the other hand, Bama was not highly rated last year and became one of the best teams in the land, just missing a trip to the College World Series.

The Alabama baseball team is ranked No. 28 in the 2011 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) preseason top-35 poll. The Crimson Tide, which ended the 2010 season ranked No. 18 by the NCBWA, is one of seven teams from the Southeastern Conference ranked in the writers' preseason national poll.

Last year Alabama had a late season surge to get into the SEC Tournament and was selected for the NCAA Tournament. Among Bama players returning this year are All-America centerfielder Taylor Dugas and outstanding pitcher Nathan Kilcrease.

TCU earned the top-spot in the season's first poll, after posting a 54-14-3 record last season. TCU's top spot in 2011 is the first-ever preseason No. 1 for the Mountain West Conference. Defending NCAA champion South Carolina is No. 8 in the opening survey, while 2010 NCAA Division I runner-up UCLA has been picked at No. 2.

The other five schools from the SEC in the top-35 are No. 3 Florida, No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 19 LSU, No. 23 Auburn and No. 24 Arkansas.

Alabama also received 75 votes in the USA Today/ESPN Top-25 coaches' poll, placing the Tide at No. 27 in the country.

The NCBWA continues its tradition of NCAA Division I polls for the 14th year with its 2011 preseason predictions and weekly surveys. Weekly polls will resume from Feb. 21-June 28 with the finale following the 65th annual 2011 NCAA World Series in Omaha, Neb.

The Crimson Tide of Coach Mitch Gaspard opens the season Feb. 18 hosting Alcorn State.

The poll voters come from 40 college baseball writers and related media persons from throughout the nation. After a preseason Top 35 listing, the remainder of the polls will feature a national Top 30 beginning with the Feb. 21 NCBWA survey.

This week's poll has representation by 12 different conferences among the 300 baseball-playing schools in the 2011 NCAA Division I ranks. The polls of 2010 had teams from 15 different DI conferences rated at least one week.

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