DURHAM, N.C. – For the first time in program history, Duke enters the season ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams according to Perfect Game as the organization listed the Blue Devils at No. 20 on its 2018 Preseason College Top 25 announced Wednesday.
Duke is one of seven ACC teams in the Perfect Game Top 25, joining No. 5 Florida State, No. 7 North Carolina, No. 9 Miami, No. 13 NC State, No. 14 Louisville and No. 24 Clemson. Reigning NCAA Champion Florida sits atop the list with No. 2 Oregon State, No. 3 TCU, No. 4 Texas Tech and No. 5 FSU rounding out the top five.
The Blue Devils return 22 letterwinners from this past season’s 30-28 squad, including eight starting position players. 2017 Cape Cod League Baseball MVPs Griffin Conine and Jimmy Herron headline that group as both outfielders return for their junior seasons. Duke also returns starting center field Kennie Taylor, second baseman Max Miller, shortstop Zack Kone, third baseman Jack Labosky, catcher Chris Proctor and designated hitter Michael Smiciklas.
With wins over then-No. 14 Clemson and No. 10 Virginia in the 2017 ACC Tournament, Duke secured 30 wins for the fourth straight season, marking the program’s first stretch of four-consecutive 30-win campaigns since the Blue Devils compiled a run of seven straight from 1992-98.
Duke opens the 2018 campaign with a three-game series Feb. 16-18 at Vanderbilt.