Posted By Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:

No lofty expectations accompany Sonoma State’s baseball team this season with the Seawolves picked to finish fifth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

A year ago, Sonoma State was tabbed for second in the league. In the end, the Seawolves finished seventh.

“We’re all excited about the upcoming season,” said Sonoma State coach John Goelz. “We weren’t picked to finish very well and we might not be as talented in some positions as we have been in the past, but the team is working very hard and we are working very well together as a team. We have a great team attitude and I feel like we will be in the conference race this season, and of course, our ultimate goal is to reach the college world series and win it all.”

Sonoma State came close two years ago when the Seawolves finished third in the Division II college world series, the program’s best finish ever. Goelz, in his 26th season leading Sonoma State, has guided the Seawolves to nine conference championships and 10 NCAA tournaments.

Reaching the tournament from one of the nation’s toughest conferences will be difficult this season.

CCAA coaches picked Sonoma State to finish fifth in the conference’s preseason poll. Topping the voting was UC San Diego, two-time defending conference and runner up in last season’s NCAA Division II Championship. Chico State was picked second, Cal State Dominguez Hills third and Cal State San Bernardino fourth. Sonoma State is followed by Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State Stanislaus, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State East Bay, San Francisco State, and Cal State Monterey Bay.

Sonoma State opens the season with a home game against Cal State Monterey Bay on Feb. 4 and a doubleheader the next day versus the Otters again in Rohnert Park.