The Big West Conference announced its 2016 baseball preseason order of finish on Thursday morning, predicting the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors to finish seventh, as voted on by the nine conference coaches.
Defending champion Cal State Fullerton was picked to win the league with four first-place votes and a 71-point total after reaching the College World Series last year. UC Irvine moved up to second with 65 points and one first-place vote. Recording three first-place votes, Long Beach State ranked third with 62 points, ahead of 2015 runner-up UC Santa Barbara, collecting 60 points. Preceding UH, CSUN and Cal Poly were picked fifth and sixth with 44 and 43 points, respectively.
UH received 27 points, listed ahead of UC Riverside and UC Davis in eighth and ninth.
Head Coach Mike Trapasso enters his 15th season leading the Rainbow Warriors, who enter their fourth season in the vaunted Big West Conference, and are coming off the best conference record (12-12) since joining the league, finishing fifth in 2015. The Rainbow Warriors have a big home schedule as always, featuring 35 home contests at Les Murakami Stadium, where UH ranked 16th in the nation in attendance average and first in the west region last season.
While the ‘Bows will again be replenishing their pitching staff via the signing class, UH returns seven position starters from last season. Returning to set the tone for the pitchers, seniors Kyle Von Ruden (RHP) and Cody Culp (RHP) will lead a young corps in their final season on Manoa. Senior shortstop Jacob Sheldon-Collins will anchor the UH infield after pacing the team at the plate last season, aided by the efforts of classmates Alan Baldwin (OF), Matt LoCoco (OF), Alex Sawelson (IF/DH). The ‘Bows also return sophomores Chayce Ka’aua (C) and Eric Ramirez (1B), as well as junior Marcus Doi (OF).
The ‘Bows return their top five hitters from a year ago.
Another year with a tough schedule is slated for the Rainbow Warriors, who will open up with their annual alumni game on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 1:00 p.m. and open the season away with a two-game set at UH Hilo on Feb. 13-14, returning to Les Murakami Stadium for a home-opening series versus New Mexico, Feb. 19-22.