Above photo by CJ Halloran/@cjhall_photography
BELTON- The UMHB baseball team was picked fourth in the ASC preseason poll, which was released Monday and voted on by league head coaches and sports information directors.
The annual poll is a sort of preseason ranking for the teams within the ASC, and this year’s voting saw a significant jump for the Cru, from where the team was picked to finish a year ago: tenth.
Defying the odds, head coach Mike Stawski’s team posted a 22-17 record, going 13-10 in the ASC, and managed to win a game in the conference tournament for the first time since 2014, when the Crusaders defeated Concordia (TX). They finished fifth in the conference standings in 2021.
Returning 20 letter winners from that team, the Cru has moved into the role of “conference contender”, picked just behind UT-Dallas, ETBU, and Concordia. UMHB received 171 total points.
UTD is the lone ranked team in the ASC by D3baseball.com, at No. 25 in the nation. The Comets received 15 first-place votes in the ASC’s preseason poll.
ASC Preseason Poll
- Sul Ross State
- Howard Payne
UMHB shortstop Caimyn Holiday and starting pitcher Andrew Acierni also were named to the conference’s Preseason Watch List.
Holiday started all 39 games last season, batting .344 with 22 stolen bases and 19 RBI. He will be entering his senior year with the Cru, as the Selma, Texas native comes off a season in which he was named Second Team All-ASC.
Acierni figures to be the team’s ace this season, as the sophomore had a huge impact during the 2021 season. In his first semester on campus, the transfer from Brookhaven College struck out 51 batters in 71.1 innings, posting an ERA of 1.89. He walked just nine batters and allowed just 10 extra-base hits in 11 appearances, 10 of which were starts. The right-hander posted a 7-2 record on his way to a D3baseball.com All West-Region selection.
UMHB opens the season on Feb. 11 in Belton, hosting Hardin-Simmons in a three-game series.