Whitney, Nielsen preseason All-WCC; BYU 6th

Brock Whitney was a preseason All-West Coast Conference selection for 2014 and was All-WCC in 2013. (Photo by Mark A Philbrick/BYU Photo)

Co-captains Brock Whitney and Hayden Nielsen of BYU are pre-season All-West Coast Conference selections, while the Cougars’ baseball team is picked to finish sixth by the WCC coaches.

San Diego was picked to defend the WCC title in 2014, followed by Pepperdine and San Francisco, each of whom tallied first-place votes along with BYU as announced by the league office on Wednesday. Loyola Marymount was selected fourth, followed by BYU, Gonzaga, Portland, Pacific, Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara.

Whitney, a senior first baseman from South Jordan, was an All-WCC First Team pick last season, leading BYU to a second-place tie and a berth in the four-team post-season playoff. Nielsen, a sophomore shortstop from Spanish Fork, was honorable mention All-WCC last season along with being named to its all-freshman team.

“It’s always good to be underestimated,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said regarding BYU being picked to finish sixth. “To me it’s a positive; that's where we were picked last season, too. Our league is so competitive that any number of teams could win. I don’t take this pick as a slap in the face; it’s how we finish in the end that counts. If we step up, we will really surprise some people.”

BYU opens its season on Feb. 14 against Kansas in a four-game series at Peoria, Ariz. The Cougars have six starters returning among 18 lettermen, mainly from a team that finished 32-21 last season overall and 15-9 in the WCC.

2014 WCC Preseason Coaches Poll (First Place Vote) Pts.
1. San Diego (6) 76
2. Pepperdine (1) 68
3. San Francisco (2) 66
4. Loyola Marymount 56
5. Gonzaga  51
6. BYU (1) 49
7. Portland 27
8. Pacific 23
9. Saint Mary’s 21
10. Santa Clara 13
2014 All-WCC Preseason Team    
Austin Davidson, Pepperdine Jr. Inf.
Connor Joe, San Diego Jr. Inf.
Corey LeBrun, Gonzaga Jr. OF
Collin Ferguson, Saint Mary's Jr UT
Hayden Nielsen, BYU So. Inf.
Zach Turner, San Francisco Sr. Inf.
Brock Whitney, BYU Sr. Inf.
Caleb Wood, Gonzaga So. Inf.
Kolten Yamaguchi, Pepperdine Jr. C
Bradley Zimmer, San Francisco Jr. OF
Abe Bobb, San Francisco Sr. RHP
Aaron Brown, Pepperdine Jr. LHP
P.J. Conlon, San Diego So. LHP
Travis Radke, Portland So. LHP
Colin Welmon, LMU Jr. RHP