NICEVILLE, Fla. – Northwest Florida baseball is ranked No. 9 in the NJCAA Preseason Poll, the association announced on Tuesday.
The Raiders are coming off a 44-12 campaign and a regular season Panhandle Conference title. NWF returns eight players from last year's squad, including All-FCSAA selection Jacob Kush, FCSAA Fireman of the Year Jackson Boyd, and FCSAA All-Tournament selection Justice Thompson.
The Baseball Newspaper had Northwest Florida ranked No. 8 in its preseason poll as voted on by the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association, which was released in December.
"It's a great compliment to our program to be picked as one of the top 10 teams in the country," Northwest Florida baseball head coach Doug Martin said. "This team has to create its own identity. We have a tough schedule and play in one of the best conferences in the nation. Our guys will have to be ready to go each and every time we take the field."
Five Raiders were named to Perfect Game's Top 100 Incoming JUCO Freshmen list in September. Thomas Wilhite (No. 5), Tyler Montoya (No. 20), Calin Smith (No. 25), Blake Buckle (No. 47), and Mac Danford (No. 65) were all included on the list of incoming junior college freshmen from across the country. In total, 15 players from the five Panhandle Conference institutions were named, with Wilhite being the lone conference player to land in the top five.
Northwest Florida opens its regular season on Jan. 31 in Lakeland Florida against St. Petersburg and Miami Dade. The team plays its first home game on Feb. 7 as part of doubleheader against Motlow State and San Jacinto.
Chipola (5), Central Florida (15), and Florida Southwestern (20) also appear in the poll representing the Region VIII.
For more information on Northwest Florida athletics, visit NWFRaiders.com or follow us on Twitter at @NWF_Raiders.