The Gophers baseball team was picked as the Big Ten preseason favorite in a coaches poll, followed by Michigan and Illinois.
Minnesota was 44-15 last season, winning the conference regular season and tournament titles. The Gophers will be led by 6-7 righthander Patrick Fredrickson, the Big Ten Pitcher and Freshman of the Year last season when he was 9-0 with a 1.86 earned-run average.
Closer Max Meyer had 16 saves and a 2.06 ERA and was a first-team All-Big Ten pick as a freshman. Also back is outfielder Ben Mezzenga, who hit .383, the second-best average on the team. Another key returning player is first baseman/catcher Cole McDevitt, who was second on the team in both homers with nine and RBI with 46.
The Gophers open their season Friday, facing Gonzaga at 6 p.m. in the College Baseball Classic in Surprise, Ariz.
• Northwestern (St. Paul) was picked as the softball favorite in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference in a preseason coaches poll after winning the conference tournament last season. St. Scholastica was second in the poll.