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College Baseball Preview, Great West Week 1: Houston Baptist, Utah Valley Start 2012 Season

The 2012 Great West Conference baseball season kicks off on Friday afternoon, but the Northern Colorado Bears will wait one more week before kicking off its 2012 season. Most of the Great West Conference teams will wait until later to begin the season; however, the Houston Baptist Huskies and the Utah Valley Wolverines will both be on the diamond when they play their respective teams on Friday.

Houston Baptist will open its season by hosting a three-game series against the McNeese Cowboys. The Huskies finished third in the Great West last season and will have LHP/1B Kyle Buller. In 2011, Buller, 6 feet 6 and 220 pounds, hit 16 home runs with the new BBCOR bat. Ryan Lower will take the mound for the Huskies and oppose Caleb Miller. Both pitchers are making their first Division I start after pitching at the junior college level before this season. Friday's game will begin at 1 p.m. MT

In 2011, Utah Valley went 22-2 and won the Great West championship and tournament for a second straight year. They will open the season on the road against the Seattle U. Redhawks, one of the five remaining Independent teams. Jeremy Gendlek is the expected starter after going 7-3 with a 1.71 ERA in 2011. He threw three complete games and had finished two of them as complete games. Blake Krahenbuhl (7-2, 2.65 ERA in 2011) will also pitch this weekend.

Austin Heaps leads the offense after hitting .339/.413/.493 with 25 doubles. He is taking over for Chris Benson, who graduated last year. Heaps will lead the team onto the diamond at 12 p.m. MT.

For more news and updates on the Great West conference, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver.