The ballots have been tallied and Mississippi Valley Stateâ€™s Sean Bard was selected as the 2008 Southwestern Athletic Conference Baseball Preseason Player of the Year. Wrandal Taylor of Prairie View A&M University, the defending SWAC champions, was named Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Bard, a 6-foot-3, 230 lb. senior first baseman from Cape Girardeau, Mo., led the conference in doubles (19), putouts (343), and fielding double plays (26). His on base percentage of .513 ranked second in the conference. Bard was third in the SWAC in walks (31) and fourth in RBIs (52) and hits (63). He was also a member of the 2007 All-SWAC Baseball First Team and a member of the All-Tournament team.
Taylor, a 5-foot-11, 195 lb. senior from Beaumont, Texas, helped lead the Panthers to the 2007 SWAC championship. He led the conference in strikeouts with 89 and was second with 92 innings pitched. He was ranked second in the SWAC in wins with nine and fifth in the SWAC with a 4.11 earned run average. The senior pitcher was a 2007 All-SWAC first team selection, a 2007 Preseason All-SWAC pick and a member of the 2007 All-Tournament team. Taylor was named Pitcher of the Year in 2006 when he threw 78.1 innings with 75 strikeouts with an average of 8.62 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Voters picked the Tigers of Jackson State in the East and the Panthers of Prairie View A&M in the West to top their respective divisions. Jackson State finished first in the Eastern Division last season with a 33-23 overall record (17-7 SWAC). Prairie View finished the season at 34-25, (17-7 in SWAC) and went on the play Rice University in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Baseball playoffs.
Southern University led all schools with five selections, followed by Jackson State, Prairie View and Texas Southern with three. Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State both have two selections. Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Grambling State each place one player on the preseason teams.