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Defending national champion Arizona ranked No. 18 in preseason baseball poll

Konner Wade

Konner Wade, who will be a junior, went 4-0 in the 2012 postseason. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Is it too early to start thinking of the college baseball season? Of course not.

Collegiate Baseball released its Fabulous 40 NCAA Division I preseason poll on Thursday, and the defending national champion Arizona Wildcats came in 18th.

Expect another competitive year in the Pac-12. Collegiate Baseball ranks UCLA fifth, Oregon sixth, Stanford ninth, Oregon State 10th and Arizona State 16th.

The Wildcats lose ace Kurt Heyer, but return two-thirds of the rotation with postseason stars Konner Wade (11-3, 3.96 ERA) and James Farris (7-3, 3.97). A deep pitching staff will include potential closer Mathew Troupe, Tyler Crawford, Tyler Hale, Stephen Manthei and senior Nick Cunningham, who had an outstanding fall, coach Andy Lopez said.

Lopez has to replace five regulars in the lineup — Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Joey Rickard, Robert Refsnyder and Bobby Brown — but junior outfielder Johnny Field (.370) is back to lead the offensive attack.

Arkansas is the No. 1 team in the Collegiate Baseball rankings. Salpointe Catholic graduate Joe Serrano, an outfielder, hit .333 for the Razorbacks as a freshman last season.

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