Todd Butler will start his career as Wichita State baseball coach as the Missouri Valley Conference favorite.
MVC coaches gave the Shockers six first-place votes and 56 points to put them in first, just ahead of Missouri State’s 55 points and two first-place votes.
WSU, 39-28 last season, returns its weekend pitching rotation and eight starting position players. First baseman Casey Gillaspie, catcher Tyler Baker, outfielder Garrett Bayliff and reliever Aaron LaBrie were named to the preseason All-MVC team. The Shockers won the MVC Tournament in 2013.
Defending regular-season champion Illinois State is third in the preseason poll, followed by new member Dallas Baptist.
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WSU starts the season on Feb. 14 against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at Eck Stadium.