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2013 Mountain West baseball preview: New Mexico, Fresno State, Nevada are the favorites

New Mexico, Nevada and Fresno State are the teams who will contend for the 2013 Mountain West baseball title.

Christian Petersen

The 2013 Mountain West baseball season gets underway on Feb. 15 with all six schools getting underway. The big change is the loss of TCU and the addition of Fresno State and Nevada. Fresno State is a more than ample swap for TCU, the Diamond Dogs went on a historic run back in 2008 to win the national title, and have always done well in recruiting to keep up with larger programs.

Nevada won a share of the WAC title in 2012, so couple that with New Mexico who is a preseason top-25 team, and the six-team league becomes very competitive. The league title is likely going to come down to New Mexico, Nevada or Fresno State.

Related: More MWC baseball coverage

Last season it was New Mexico, and the now departed TCU, for the best teams. The Lobos made it to the NCAA regional round, but that is when both seasons ended. New Mexico is looking to improve off of that finish and go farther this season, and possibly earn a trip to the College World Series.

New Mexico returns arguably the best player in the league in D.J. Peterson. Peterson was a first-team Silver Slugger All-American in 2012 and had some gaudy stats by hitting .419, 17 home runs to go along with 78 RBI. He is on various preseason All-America lists, as is his teammate catcher Mitchell Garver.

The Lobos are ranked 21st in the Baseball America preseason top-25 poll, but that is the only poll they are ranked in. has them as a team to watch and does not have them in their top-44.

Fresno State is ranked by as the 42nd best team, and as the top team in the Mountain West. With Fresno State projected to win the league, the website has them in the NCAA Tournament. Fresno State brings in a to-20 recruiting class, which is almost the norm, so look for freshman to be able to step in right away. The big catch from the 2012 class was right-handed pitcher Tim Borst, and he chose Fresno State over UCLA and Cal State Fullerton.

The weekend ace will be Tyler Linehan, he did go just 4-5 last year and had an ERA of 3.58, but that was in the WAC which is known for a hitting league. However, he does have good control, Linehan walked just 30 players in 83 innings, plus struck out 82 batters.

The non-conference slate for any team is truly out of this world. UNLV and Fresno State both go on the road to face Stanford, who is a preseason top-10 team. Plus, there is a series where San Diego State goes on the road to face preseason No. 3 Arkansas.

Some key datesto remember for the 2013 season:

Mountain West league play begins: March 13
Mountain West tournament: (Fresno, Calif.) May 22 - May 26
NCAA Regionals: May 31 - June 3
NCAA Super Regionals: June 7 - June 10
College World Series: June 15 - June 26

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