FROM PRESS RELEASE
Old Dominion is the overwhelming favorite to capture the CAA baseball championship in 2008 according to a vote of the league’s head baseball coaches.
The Monarchs finished atop the poll with 99 points and received nine of a possible 10 first-place votes since coaches weren’t allowed to rank their own teams. Defending CAA champion VCU was second with 87 points, UNC Wilmington was third with 77 points and Delaware received a pair of first place votes and was fourth with 69 points. Those four teams finished in a four-way tie for first in the CAA regular-season standings a year ago at 18-11. George Mason was picked fifth with 58 points, followed by Georgia State, James Madison, William and Mary, Northeastern, Towson and Hofstra.
ODU returns six starters from last year’s 35-24 squad. The Monarchs’ strength will be on the mound where they welcome back junior Anthony Shawler (11-2, 2.20 ERA, 130 K’s), who earned first-team All-America honors, and junior Dan Hudson (8-5, 3.46 ERA, 109 K’s), who was a first-team All-CAA selection. Among the offensive returnees are senior designated hitter David Burns (.309, 8 HR, 61 RBI) and sophomore third baseman Jake McAloose (.306, 34 RBI).
VCU welcomes back six regulars and three of its top four starting pitchers from a 37-23 team that posted its 12th straight 30-win season and captured its fourth CAA title in the last six years. The Rams are led offensively by first-team All-CAA first baseman Jared Bolden (.383, 5 HR, 49 RBI) and junior third baseman Chris Jackson (.341, 4 HR, 57 RBI). Senior right-hander Cody Eppley (7-5, 4.66 ERA) is the top returnee on the mound.
UNCW, which has 40 or more games in four of the past five years, has seven starters back from last season’s 29-27 club. The Seahawks are led offensively by senior outfielder Jason Appel (.338, 24 RBI) and senior catcher Mark Carver (.316, 42 RBI). Senior Jeff Hatcher (5-6, 3.70 ERA) and junior Brad Holt (5-5, 5.90 ERA) will lead the pitching staff.
Delaware has five starters back from its 32-23 team that reached the CAA championship game. The Blue Hens feature junior preseason All-America infielder Alex Buchholz (.387, 11 HR, 63 RBI) and senior outfielder Adam Tsakonas (.335, 35 RBI). Back on the mound is senior closer David Slovak, who saved 12 games a year ago.
2008 CAA BASEBALL PRESEASON PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Old Dominion (9 first-place votes) 99
2. VCU 87
3. UNC Wilmington 77
4. Delaware (2 first-place votes) 69
5. George Mason 58
6. Georgia State 56
7. James Madison 48
8. William and Mary 38
9. Northeastern 35
10. Towson 26
11. Hofstra 12