Longhorns are one of five Big 12 teams in the poll
The Texas baseball team has been ranked as the No. 20 team in the nation in a 2014 preseason poll released by Collegiate Baseball on Friday.
Texas returns eight contributors from a pitching staff that ranked seventh nationally with a 2.61 ERA last season, including all three weekend starters in Dillon Peters, Nathan Thornhill and Parker French.
Peters, a junior, was a second team All-Big 12 selection last season and compiled a 6-3 record with a 1.97 ERA. Thornhill, who racked up a team-high 60 strikeouts along with a 2.21 ERA last year, opted to return for his senior season after being selected by the Houston Astros in the 24th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. French, meanwhile, had a 2.68 ERA while logging 77 1/3 innings.
Mark Payton, the team's leading hitter last year and a 2014 preseason All-American, headlines the list of offensive returnees. Payton ranked 12th nationally with a .393 batting average in 2013, while also recording team bests in on-base percentage (.483) and slugging percentage (.545). Texas returns six offensive starters in all.
The Longhorns also welcome 13 newcomers to the program that made up the second-ranked recruiting class in the nation by Baseball America.
Texas is one of five Big 12 teams included in the top-40 poll, joining Oklahoma State (18), TCU (19), Kansas State (28) and Oklahoma (32).
The Longhorns play their annual Alumni Game on Saturday, Feb. 1, at UFCU-Disch Falk Field, before opening the regular season on Feb. 14 at California.Article courtesy of Texassports.com