Gonzaga may be the preseason WCC favorite, and Zags right-hander Alek Jacob may be catching plenty of All-American praise, but Mitch McIntyre and BYU would like a word.
The Cougars are fresh off of a 36-17 finish and the programs first outright WCC title in 2019. And that team returns plenty of talent, headlined by McIntyre, the team’s top returner in virtually every offensive category.
The Stansbury, Utah, native hit .291 with seven home runs during his sophomore season, and also tossed 17 scoreless innings as a freshman.
Speaking of the arms, McIntyre is joined by right-handers Easton Walker and Reid McLaughlin. Like McIntyre, Walker picked up Preseason All-WCC honors this month after posting a 2.20 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 77.2 innings pitched in 2019.
McLaughlin was named to the NCBWA Preseason All-America third team after wrapping up 2019 with freshman All-America honors, courtesy of Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game.
The Scottsdale, Ariz., native went 7-1 in ’19 with four saves as a reliever — the first time in school history that a pitcher has picked up as many as seven wins and four saves in the same season. Over 51.2 innings of work, McLaughlin posted a 2.61 ERA and 46 strikeouts against just 11 walks last season.
In addition to that trio, there’s plenty of reason for head coach Mike Littlewood to be optimistic as the Cougars head into 2020.
The momentum of ’19 fed Littlewood’s pursuit of elite-level talent, culminating in an incoming freshman class that was ranked No. 16 by D1 Baseball — saying nothing of the outfield addition of junior college All-American Hayden Leatham.
BYU opens the 2020 season at the Sanderson Ford Baseball Classic in Surprise, Ariz., against Gonzaga on Friday, Feb. 14, at 6 PM CST. The Cougars will play a doubleheader against New Mexico on Saturday, before closing things out against No. 25 Oregon State on Monday.
Each game of the Classic will stream LIVE on FloBaseball.tv and the FloSports app.