Ducks picked Sixth, Feb. 13 The Oregon Ducks were picked to finish sixth in the 2018 Pac-12 Preseason Baseball Coaches’ Poll released Monday. UO received 51 points, just five points fewer than fifth-place California. Oregon State is the preseason favorite, besting Stanford by 11 points, while getting nine more first-place votes. The Ducks are coming off a 30-25 season. UO returns four position player starters in 2018. Offensively, the Ducks will be led by first-team All-Pac-12 pick Kyle Kasser who batted a program-best (since 2009) .352 last season. Kasser, who split time between first base and shortstop as a junior in 2017, will start at second base. He will be joined in the infield by returning starters, and freshmen All-Americans, Gabe Matthews and Spencer Steer. Matthews, who returns as the starter at first base, finished second on the team last year with a .282 batting average while hitting three home runs and driving in 26 runs. Steer, the returning starter at third, led the Ducks in doubles (12) and RBI (35). The Ducks will feature a pitching staff with two-thirds of the rotation returning from last season. Junior Matt Mercer moves into the Friday night role after going 6-7 with a 2.51 ERA. Junior Cole Stringer, who was 4-3 with a 3.80 ERA in 2017, will move from Sundays to Saturdays in the rotation. Sophomore James Acuna will be the Sunday starter after spending most of his freshman season in the bullpen. The back end of the bullpen should be a strength once again for the Ducks. All-American Kenyon Yovan returns as UO’s closer after finishing his freshman campaign with 15 saves and a 1.97 ERA. The Ducks open their season Friday, Feb. 16, at the Marucci Desert Classic in Las Vegas against Loyola Marymount. Oregon opens at PK Park on Tuesday, Feb. 27, against Seattle. UO begins Pac-12 play on March 16 at Arizona State. Season tickets and mini-plans are currently on sale at www.goducks/tickets, while individual game tickets go on sale Feb. 16.