FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
RICHMOND, Va. (January 19, 2011) – James Madison, which returns five starters from last year’s squad that finished atop the CAA baseball regular-season standings, has been picked to win the conference title in 2011 according to a vote of the CAA’s head baseball coaches.
The Dukes received four first-place votes and finished atop the poll with 90 points. Georgia State also garnered four first-place votes and was close behind in second with 88. Defending CAA champion VCU got two first-place tallies and was chosen third with 84 points and UNC Wilmington picked up the remaining first place vote and was fourth with 83 points. William and Mary placed fifth in the voting, followed by George Mason, Old Dominion, Delaware, Towson, Hofstra and Northeastern.
JMU returns five everyday starters from a 30-23 squad that finished atop the CAA regular-season standings with an 18-6 mark. Among the returnees are three players who received All-CAA honors in 2010 – infielder Trevor Knight (.360, 13 HR, 45 RBI), shortstop David Herbek (.304, 47 RBI) and catcher Jake Lowery (.285, 41 RBI). Also back is outfielder Alex Foltz, who made the All-CAA team in 2009 but sat out last season. Left-hander Alex Valadja (3-6) and D.J. Brown (4-3) are among three starting pitchers that return to the rotation.
Georgia State went 34-23-1 in 2010 and has seven starters back from a lineup that produced the most runs in the nation (10.5 rpg) and ranked third nationally in batting average (.355). Leading the Panthers are three All-CAA standouts – outfielders Mark Micowski (.392, 40 RBI) and Ryan Fleming (.375, 13 HR, 59 RBI) and second baseman Rob Lind (.402, 56 RBI) – as well as third baseman Brandon Williams (.408, 73 RBI). Senior pitchers Aidan Francis (6-3) and Charley Olson (5-4) are back in the starting rotation and Justin Malone (4-1, 5 saves) returns as GSU’s closer.
VCU welcomes back five starters from last year’s 34-26-1 squad that won the CAA championship for the fifth time in the last nine years. Providing the spark for the Rams’ offensively are first baseman Brent Mikionis (.343, 11 HR, 54 RBI), All-CAA utility player Taylor Perkins (.295, 31 RBI) and outfielder John Lenherr (.289, 35 RBI). VCU’s strength could be its starting pitching as All-CAA standout Seth Cutler-Voltz (8-4, 3.47 ERA) returns along with sophomores Kyle Haynes (3-3) and Blake Hauser (4-4). Jonathan Watson (4-2, 2.51 ERA) will be the closer.
UNC Wilmington returns five starters from a 33-27 squad that made its fourth CAA championship game appearance in the last seven years. The Seahawks’ lineup includes a pair of CAA All-Rookie performers in first baseman Hunter Ridge (.348, 49 RBI) and third baseman Michael Bass (.300, 25 RBI). UNCW also features a deep pitching staff led by starters Tyler McSwain (6-3, 4.02 ERA) and Justin Bradley (3-2, 4.28 ERA). The Seahawks led the league in ERA (4.60), opponent batting average (.266) and strikeouts (479) in 2010.
2011 CAA BASEBALL PRESEASON PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. James Madison (4 first-place votes) 90
2. Georgia State (4 first-place votes) 88
3. VCU (2 first-place votes) 84
4. UNC Wilmington (1 first-place vote) 83
5. William and Mary 54
6. George Mason 51
7. Old Dominion 44
8. Delaware 34
9. Towson 33
10. Hofstra 26
11. Northeastern 18