Hornet baseball picked to win SWAC East

The Southwestern Athletic Conference announced its 2014 baseball predictions on Monday and Alabama State was picked to win the SWAC East Division title ahead of Jackson State.

Southern was picked to win the West.

Jackson State’s Charles Tillery was voted SWAC Player of the Year, with Hornet ace T.J. Renda selected as the Pitcher of the Year and ASU shortstop Emmanuel Marrero picked as the Defensive Player of the Year.

Renda was among four Hornets picked to the first team all-conference squad, along with outfielders Waldyvan Estrada and Dillon Cooper and catcher Richard Gonzalez. Marrero and third baseman Brenden Castro were selected to the second team.

For the Eastern Division, Alabama State led the group with 80 points including eight first-place votes. Jackson State followed with 78 points and 10 first-place votes with Alcorn State standing third with 58 points. Mississippi Valley State received 39 points and two first-place votes and Alabama A&M rounded out the prediction with 35 points.

Defending Western Division regular season champions Southern was predicted to repeat with 74 points including seven first-place votes. Prairie View A&M was tagged second with 72 points and eight first-place votes. Arkansas-Pine Bluff garnered 57 points for third along with five votes for first. Texas Southern (55) and Grambling State (32) closed out the division’s preseason prediction.

Jackson State had a league-high seven players selected to the all-conference squads with three selected to the first team. Alabama State was second with six players, including four on the first team.

Renda, from Orlando, Fla., earned ABCA first team honors after receiving SWAC Pitcher of the Year and league first team accolades. He recorded a 9-1 record with a 2.19 ERA. Renda led the SWAC in strikeouts, wins and ERA.

Marrero, of Caugas, Puerto Rico, finished last season with a .953 fielding percentage and led ASU with 118 assists. He was second on the team in fielding double plays with 14.

The 2014 season opens for all 10 league teams this Friday.

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Tim Gayle is a sports reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper and montgomeryadvertiser.com.
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