The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association baseball coaches have selected defending tournament champion University of Central Missouri as the team to beat in the 2009 preseason poll.

This is the first time in a long time, the MIAA’s baseball coaches have done a preseason ranking.

The Mules collected nine of a possible 10 first-place votes (coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team) and finished with 99 of a possible 100 points. Central Missouri earned the regional championship and was eliminated in the semifinal round of the 2008 NCAA Division II Championship by eventual national champion Mount Olive (N.C.).

The 2008 regular season MIAA champions from Emporia State picked up the other two available first-place votes — the Hornets finished second in the balloting with 92 points.

MIAA newcomer Nebraska-Omaha, like UCM and ESU a qualifier for the NCAA Division II regional in 2008, placed third in the poll with 78 points. Fort Hays State finished fourth on the list with 69 points.

Northwest Missouri State edged out Missouri Western for fifth place in the poll, the Bearcats scoring 60 points to the Griffons’ 58. Missouri Southern was seventh with 52 points.

The Washburn Ichabods were one point ahead of the Pittsburg State Gorillas for eighth in the ranking, while Southwest Baptist and Truman round out the list.

The Mules are third in the preseason Collegiate Baseball Division II Coaches Poll. The MIAA will compete in the NCAA Division II South Central Region for baseball with the Lone Star and Heartland conferences this season.

 1. Central Missouri         
 2. Emporia State            
 3. Nebraska-Omaha              
 4. Fort Hays State             
 5. Northwest Missouri State    
 6. Missouri Western            
 7. Missouri Southern           
 8. Washburn                    
 9. Pittsburg State             
10. Southwest Baptist           
11. Truman