FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas baseball team finished the 2012 season with a third-place finish at the College World Series.
They’ll begin 2013 ranked No. 1 in at least one poll.
Collegiate Baseball released its preseason rankings Thursday and placed the Razorbacks on top of their poll. It marks the first time the Arkansas baseball program has been ranked No. 1 to open a season.
Arkansas, which went 46-22 in 2012, returns a talented group that includes pitchers Ryne Stanek, Barrett Astin and Colby Suggs. Stanek, Suggs and first baseman Dominic Ficociello have been named Louisville Slugger preseason All-Americans.
In all, 10 pitchers return from a staff that compiled a 2.83 earned run average, which was the second-lowest in school history. Six position players who started 30 or more games also return, led by Ficociello (.290, 6 HRs, 41 RBIs in 2012).
Nine other Southeastern Conference teams were included in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason top 40 poll. The poll included No. 3 Vanderbilt, No. 4 LSU, No. 7 South Carolina, No. 8 Kentucky, No. 13 Mississippi State, No. 24 Florida, No. 25 Ole Miss, No. 26 Texas A&M and No. 29 Georgia.
Arkansas opens the 2013 season against Western Illinois on Feb. 15.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau