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Ahead of 2022 campaign, Texas earned the No. 1 ranking in D1Baseball's preseason poll

Texas slugger Ivan Melendez, right, mostly played designated hitter last season but could take over as the regular first baseman this season for the Longhorns, who are the preseason No. 1 team in the country in D1Baseball.com's Top 25 poll.

One national publication believes Texas will dogpile in Omaha this year.

On Tuesday, the Longhorns topped the preseason poll released by D1Baseball.com. The publication placed the Longhorns ahead of a slew of SEC teams — No. 2 Arkansas, No. 3 Vanderbilt, No. 4 Mississippi State and No. 5 Ole Miss.

This marks the first time that Texas has been the No. 1 team in D1Baseball's preseason poll. The Longhorns went 50-17 last season and reached the College World Series. Texas won three games in Omaha before Mississippi State, the eventual national champions, ended its run.

Texas pitcher Ty Madden was an All-American last season and led the Longhorns to the College World Series but was drafted in the first round by the Detroit Tigers. The Longhorns also lost pitchers Cole Quintanilla and Kolby Kubichek to the draft.

Texas has lost several key pieces from last year's team. All-American pitcher Ty Madden was selected by Detroit in the first round of the MLB draft. Outfielder Mike Antico, who stole 41 bases in 2021 and drew a nation-leading 63 walks, is now playing in the St. Louis Cardinals' farm system. Pitchers Cole Quintanilla (Washington) and Kolby Kubichek (New York Mets), third baseman Cam Williams (Kansas City) and first baseman Zach Zubia (Miami) also were drafted.

However, Texas is set to return starters at catcher, shortstop and second base. After leading UT last season in batting average (.319) and home runs (13), Ivan Melendez could take over for Zubia at first base. The Longhorns also have three experienced outfielders in Eric Kennedy, Austin Todd and Douglas Hodo III.

But the key to UT's success will likely be pitching. All-Big 12 pitcher Tristan Stevens (11-3, 3.31 ERA in 2021) is back as is left-hander Pete Hansen (9-1, 1.88 ERA). After working out of the bullpen last year, Tanner Witt (5-0, 3.16 ERA) is primed to take over a spot in the rotation. Aaron Nixon is also coming off a nine-save season.

More:Texas' Tristan Stevens has 'another chip to add on my shoulder'

The first date on UT's regular season schedule is a home game against Rice on Feb. 18. Texas will play 11 games against teams ranked in the D1Baseball.com poll:

  • No. 19 Tennessee: March 4 (Houston's Minute Maid Park)
  • No. 8 LSU: March 5 (Houston's Minute Maid Park)
  • at No. 14 Texas Tech: March 25-27
  • No. 17 TCU: April 8-10
  • No. 7 Oklahoma State: April 29-May 1