The American Athletic Conference announced the 2018 Preseason Coaches’ Poll and all-conference teams and USF baseball was picked to finish fifth—despite receiving a first place vote—behind Houston, UConn, UCF and ECU.
The 2018 #AmericanBSB Preseason Coaches' Poll has been announced! ⚾️— American Baseball (@American_BSB) December 21, 2017
The Bulls finished the 2017 season 42-19 (14-10 AAC), their highest win total in 21 years and will look to rebound in 2018 after a brutal AAC tournament and Gainesville Regional.
SS/2B Coco Montes and others had some thoughts about being picked fifth in the conference.
Lol 5th? Disrespectful— coco (@coco_montes) December 21, 2017
Bright side: @USFBaseball got a first place vote https://t.co/3WMOFKVaag— Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN) December 21, 2017
Lol.. Just wait https://t.co/n1rp4PoMub— Shane McClanahan (@Sugar_ShaneM) December 21, 2017
Redshirt sophomore LHP Shane McClanahan, senior RHP Peter Strzelecki and OF Duke Stunkel Jr, were all named to the AAC preseason all-conference team.
McClanahan had an impressive debut season after missing the entire 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and finished second on the team in strikeouts (104) last year and was eighth in the nation in strikeouts-per-nine-innings with 12.31. His .188 BAA was the lowest on the team.
McClanahan was one of only four players to be unanimously selected to the all-conference team.
MLB.com lists the lefty as the fifth-best prospect in the 2018 MLB draft.
Strzelecki also missed the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery but recovered nicely to lead the Bulls with a team-low 2.42 ERA. He lost his father suddenly in the middle of the season and somehow pitched better after that devastating loss, including firing the only nine inning, complete game shutout for the Bulls in a 2-0 victory over UConn on May 13.
Stunkel was one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season with how well he played in centerfield. He consistently made amazing plays and did not commit an error in the field. He also hit .344/.430/.467 with two home runs and 24 RBI.
USF opens the season February 16 versus UNC. Conference play begins March 23 versus UConn and the AAC tournament will begin May 22 at Spectrum Field in Clearwater.