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2011 CBD Season Preview: Southern Conference

By: Aaron Kirby

The 2010 season was a historic season for the Southern Conference.   After getting 2 teams in Regionals in 5 of 6 previous years, along with the SOCON tourney champion and regular season champion(The Citadel) 2 teams, College of Charleston and Elon earned an at-large bid putting 3 SOCON teams in NCAA postseason for the first time in history of the league. In 2010 the SOCON finished the season with 7 teams with RPI in the top 75.

SOCON 2010 RPI- #9

THE FAVORITE

College of Charleston-(44-19 overall 22-8 SOCON/2nd)-At-Large/Myrtle Beach Regional

CofC came up just short of winning its 2nd regional title(2006 Kentucky Regional) last season in Myrtle Beach and the majority of that team returns for another run.  Returning four 1st team all conference position players and 6 of 9 starters CofC enters 2011 as the clear favorite.  Including 2010 Player of Year 3B Matt Leeds(.326/21/88), CF Cole Rakar (.378/8/54/27 2B/102 H), LF Jose Rodriguez(.355/16/69) and C Rob Kral (.344/15/57).  JC transfer OF/P Marty Gannt adds to an already loaded lineup, he was a top of order guy at Spartanburg Methodist. CofC also get 1B Ryan Daniels(.363/10/64) back after missing 2010 with injury. A 1st Team All SoCon in 2009. How far this team can go will depend on the pitching staff which returns 2 of 3 weekend starters, RHP David Peterson(8-3/5.30/86.2/15 GS) and RHP Christian Powell(7-4/6.84/79.0/16 GS)

Team: COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON Overall rec/SOCON record/Finish
2010 RPI: #21 44-19/22-8/2ND PLACE/AT LARGE BID
Starters Returning/Lost-6/3
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-2/1
Returning Hitters MISC
OF-SR-COLE RAKAR-.378/8/54/27 2B/102 H 1ST TEAM ALL CONF
OF-JR-JOSE RODRIGUEZ-.355/16/69/18 2B 1ST TEAM ALL CONF
C-JR-ROB KRAL-.344/15/57 2ND TEAM ALL CONF/drafted 16th rd
3B-JR-MATT LEEDS-.326/21/88/23 2B PLAYER OF YEAR
C/1B-SR-KOLBY EPLEY-.287/3/40
1B-SR-RYAN DANIELS(.363/10/64)*2009 2009 1st team All Conf
SS-SR-JAMIE HOLLER-.286/4/26
Returning Pitchers MISC
RHP-JR-DAVID PETERSON-8-3/5.30/86.2/15 GS
RHP-SO-CHRISTIAN POWELL-7-4/6.84/79.0/16 GS
RHP-SR-CASEY LUCCHESE-4-0/3.18/39.2 Drafted 39th rd
RHP-SR-JOSH SALAY-2-3/6.45/53.0/8 GS
Key Players Lost MISC
INF-JOEY BERGMAN-.335/5/40 2009 PLAYER OF YEAR/drafted 33rd rd
1B-GREG BLAKE-.323/17/54 2ND TEAM ALL CONF
INF-BAKER KNOX-.293/4/33
RHP-KEVIN DECKER-8-0/3.78/81.0 Drafted 39th rd
RHP-HEATH HEMBREE-5-3/6.52/29.0/4 SV Drafted 5th rd

THE CONTENDERS

The Citadel-(43-22 overall 24-6 SOCON/1st)-SOCON Champs/Columbia Regional

The Citadel took home 2 more championships last year, winning the regular season and tourney titles.  Citadel has a history of great pitching but their ace and supplemental 1st rd pick and pitcher of the year RHP Asher Wojociechowski (12-3/3.58/125.2/155 Ks) is moved on.  But return 2 of 3 weekend starters and filling the ace role in 2011 is LHP Matt Talley(8-3/3.71/104.1/16 GS) who returns for his SR year after being drafted in 25th round last year along with RHP Michael Clevinger (5-3/5.15/92.2/15 GS).  Closing out games again should be SR LHP Drew Mahaffey (4-3/4.75/30.1/7 sv).   On offense the Cadets return 6 of 9 starters including 3 players with 20+ steals and another with 18.  So look for The Citadel to pitch, run and play defense to make another run in the SOCON and be in position to get into regional.

Team: CITADEL Overall rec/SOCON rec/Finish
2010 RPI: #31 43-22/24-6/REGULAR SEASON AND TOURNEY CHAMPS
Starters Returning/Lost-6/3
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-2/1
Returning Hitters MISC
INF-JR-JUSTIN MACKERT-.335/5/38/24 SB
OF-JR-NICK ORVIN-.335/7/30/22 SB 2ND TEAM ALL CONF
OF-SR-MATT SIMONELI-.315/5/59/22 SB
OF-JR-BRAD FELDER-.262/11/32/18 SB
Returning Pitchers MISC
LHP-SR-MATT TALLEY-8-3/3.71/104.1/85 K/16 GS Drafted 25th rd
RHP-SO-MICHAEL CLEVINGER-5-3/5.15/92.2/15 GS
LHP-SR-DREW MAHAFFEY-4-3/4.75/30.1/7 SV
RHP-SO-AUSTIN PRITCHER-3-3/6.18/39.1/8 GS
RHP-JR-TJ CLARKSON-1-4/6.48/41.2/8 GS
Key Players Lost MISC
RHP-ASHER WOJOCIECHOWSKI-12-3/3.58/155 K PITCHER OF YEAR/supplemental 1st rd pick
INF-BRYAN ALTMAN-.343/14/70 2ND TEAM ALL CONF/drafted 41st rd
3B-DAVID GREEN-.289/7/55
RHP-MATT REIFSNIDER-2-1/4.09/55.0/29 APP
RHP-RAY COPENHAVEN-3-1/3.25/36.0/33 APP

Western Carolina-(37-21-1 overall 16-13-1 SOCON/6th)

WCU is primed for a run at the SOCON and a regional after last years return to the Championship game vs the Citadel.  But with a championship game loss and coming up short on at-large bid the Catamounts return plenty of talent to be there again this year.  Returning 6 of 9 position starters including 2B Ross Heffley (.361/11/63/15 2B), INF/OF Matt Johns (.346/11/40/23 SB), SS Austin Schultz (.307/7/35/14 SB), Catchers Ollie Goulder (.279/11/36) and returning after missing all but 2 games last year Stephan Notaro (.287/13/39**2009 stats).  The strength should be in the pitching staff as 3 of 4 starters return.  Leading the way are two 9 game winners including 2nd team All SOCON RHP Matt Benedict(9-2/3.11/92.2) and RHP Brandon Johnson(9-1/2.89/53.0/33 App).  RHP Kyle Stewart(2-2/6.87/55.0/10 GS) and LHP Vance Chavis (3-4/7.40/48.2/10 GS) were both weekend starters at times during season last year.  Sophomore RHP Taylor Sandefur (1-2/5.19/50.1/9 GS) who joined the weekend rotation late last year should be in weekend rotation this year and could have a big season.  Sandefur had an impressive summer in Valley where he was named top pitcher and top prospect.  Freshman RHP Jordan Smith(Liberty, NC) may crack the weekend rotation. If WCU plays like they should look for them to finish in top 3rd of SOCON and get in a regional.

Team: WESTERN CAROLINA Overall rec/SOCON rec/Finish
2010 RPI: #55 37-21/1/16-13-1/6TH
Starters Returning/Lost-6/3
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-3/1
Returning Hitters MISC
2B-JR-ROSS HEFFLEY-.361/11/63/15 2B
INF/OF-SR-MATT JOHNS-.346/11/40/19 2B/23 SB
SS-SR-AUSTIN SCHULTZ-.307/7/35/14 SB
1B-SO-TYLER WHITE-.288/3/36
OF-JR-CAMERON DULLNIG-.282/1/29/16 SB
C-SR-OLLIE GOULDER-.279/11/36
C-SR-STEPHAN NOTARO-.287/13/39(2009 STATS)
Returning Pitchers MISC
RHP-SR-MATT BENNEDICT-9-2/3.11/92.2/13 GS 2ND TEAM ALL CONF
RHP-JR-BRANDON JOHNSON-9-1/2.89/53.0/2 SV
RHP-SO-TAYLOR SANDEFUR-1-2/5.19/50.1/9 GS TOP PITCHER 2010 SUMMER VALLEY AND TOP PROSPECT
RHP-JR-KYLE STEWART-2-2/6.87/55.0/10 GS
LHP-JR-VANCE CHAVIS-3-4/7.40/48.2/10 GS
Key Players Lost MISC
3B-TYLER KIRKPATRICK-.332/13/56
OF-TREVOR COLLIAS-.302/14/52/19 SB
OF-DYLAN DE GRAAF-.282/2/28/30-32 SB
RHP/CL-DANIEL OTTONE-1-2/4.70/23.0/7 SV Drafted 33rd rd
RHP-JASON SULLIVAN-4-3/3.65/44.1

Georgia Southern-(34-24 overall 19-11 SOCON/Tied 3rd)

In 2009 GSU won the regular season and tourney titles in the SOCON along with earning a #2 seed at the CSFU regional.  The Eagles entered last year with eyes on a repeat but got off to slow start.  But GSU got rolling in the middle of season to get right back in contention for a regional again before coming up short.  GSU has the talent to make it back to the top this year and has probably the fastest team in SOCON.  5 of 9 starters return and leading the way are two 2nd team All SOCON players from 2010 OF Shawn Payne(.345/5/33/43 SB) and SS/3B Eric Phillips(.342/7/56/15 SB).  Two All SOCON freshman also return DH Michael Burress (.326/1/26) and OF Arthur Owens(.313/0/30).  Sophomore OF Victor Roache (.252/8/38) turned down good money to play in Statesboro and dealt with injuries most of last year.  If healthy in 2011 keep an eye on him.  Getting some ABs this year after returning for his SR year is RHP Andy Moye (8-4/5.61/77.0/10 GS) who should see some time at 1B.  Returning to the weekend rotation with Moye is RHP Matt Murray(6-3/6.00/75.0/15 GS).  If they pitch, look for the speed and talent to keep GSU at the top of SOCON once again in 2011 and be in position to get in a Regional.

Team: GEORGIA SOUTHERN Overall rec/SOCON rec/Finish
2010 RPI: #66 34-24/19-11/TIED 3RD
Starters Returning/Lost-5/4
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-2/1
Returning Hitters MISC
OF-SR-SHAWN PAYNE-.345/5/33/43 SB 2ND TEAM ALL CONF/drafted 44th rd
SS/3B-JR-ERIC PHILLIPS-.342/7/56/15 SB 2ND TEAM ALL CONF
DH-SO-MICHAEL BURRESS-.326/1/26/13 2B
OF-SO-ARTHUR OWENS-.313/0/30
OF-SO-VICTOR ROACHE-.252.8/38
Returning Pitchers MISC
RHP-SR-ANDY MOYE-8-4/5.61/77.0/10 GS PLAY 1B/drafted 50th rd
RHP-JR-MATT MURRAY-6-3/6.00/75.0/15 GS
RHP-SO-JUSTIN HESS-1-1/4.06/37.2
RHP-JR-COLIN SNOW-3-2/6.86/40.2/3 SV
RHP-SO-CHRIS BECK-2-4/8.31/30.1
Key Players Lost MISC
1B-KYLE BLACKBURN-.353/17/76 1ST TEAM ALL CONF
3B-AJ WIRNSBERGER-.328/10/48
2B-KEVIN BOWLES-.328/0/38
LHP-JAKE BROWN-7-6/4.32/102.0/14 GS Drafted 26th rd
LHP/CL-DEXTER BOBO-1-2/3.94/45.2/10 SV

Elon-(38-24 overall 19-11 SOCON/Tied 3rd)-At-Large/Atlanta Regional

Elon earned its 3rd consecutive NCAA trip in 2010 with an at-large bid.   Elon returns only 5 of 9 starters but returns 1st team All SOCON and possibly one of best SS in country in SR Neal Pritchard(.340/12/40).  Elon is noted for its offense but even with the loss of 1st team All SOCON LHP Jimmy Reyes(10-4/4.56/98.2/96 K/15 GS) to the draft the strengths of the 2011 club should be its pitching.  The drafted didn’t take RHP Ken Ferrer(9-6/5.52/73.1/11 GS) 35th rd and Closer RHP Thomas Girdwood (3-2/5.33/27.0/8 sv) 15th rd along with RHP Jared Kernodle (6-3/5.40/68.1/11 GS) should anchor a solid staff.  Expect the Phoenix to be near the top of SOCON once again in 2011 but are going to need several newcomers to step up in order to make it 4 consecutive regional appearances.

Team: ELON Overall rec/SOCON rec/Finish
2010 RPI: #45 38-24/19-11/TIED 3RD/AT LARGE
Starters Returning/Lost-5/4
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-2/2
Returning Hitters MISC
SS-SR-NEAL PRITCHARD-.340/12/47 1ST TEAM ALL CONFERENCE
C-SO-ALEX SWIM-.310/2/40
OF-SO-NIKO FRASER-.281/1/21
INF-SR-SETH CANIPE-.273/10/35
OF-SR-BEN SCOTT-.304/2/16
Returning Pitchers MISC
CL-SR-THOMAS GIRDWOOD-3-2/5.33/27.0/8 SV DRAFTED 15th RD
RHP-SR-JARED KERNODLE-6-3/5.40/68.1/11 GS
RHP-KEN FERRER-9-6/5.52/73.1/11 GS DRAFTED 35th RD
Key Players Lost MISC
3B-SCOTT RIDDLE-.317/6/31
OF-MATT HINSON-.315/16/49 2ND TEAM ALL CONF
C-MIKE MELLILO-.310/11/56 1ST TEAM ALL CONF/draft 31st rd
1B-RYAN ADAMS-.294/12/58
LHP-JIMMY REYES-10-4/4.56/98.2/96 K/15 GS 1ST TEAM ALL CONF/drafted 7th rd
RHP-DANIEL BRITT-5-2/4.99/79.1/14 GS
OF-JUSTIN HILT-.238/10 HR Drafted 36th rd

THE DARK HORSES

Appalachian State-(38-18-1 overall 14-14-1/7th)

App St continues to climb the ranks of the SOCON but lost some of the best players, 1st team SOCON 2010 2B Wes Hobson(.404/11/54) and RP Chris Petterson (4-4/1.67/43.0/13 sv), in the history of its program.  But the cupboard is not empty in 2011 that’s for sure returning 5 of 9 starters and 2 of 3 starting pitchers.  Returning with one year under their belt is a very good group of sophomores:  3B Hector Crespo (.335/3/31/31 SB), OF Tyler Zupcic (.332/2/30/18 SB), LHP Tyler Jackson (2-4/5.34/64.0/13 GS) and RHP Nathan Hyatt (2-3/4.99/48.2).  After going 24-4 in non-conference games last year this year maybe be a little differ with 3 games series at Miami, and single games vs North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wake Forrest.  Those tough games will pay off for App St in SOCON and expect 2012 to be big year for App St but don’t be to surprised if they make some noise this year as well.  Keep an eye on Hyatt.

Team: App St Overall rec/SOCON rec/Finish
2010 RPI: #56 38-18-1/14-14-1/7TH PLACE
Starters Returning/Lost-5/4
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-2/1
Returning Hitters MISC
C-JR-JEREMY DOWDY-.338/6/48
3B-SO-HECTOR CRESPO-.335/3/31/31 SB SOCON ALL FRESHMAN
OF-SO-TYLER ZUPZIC-.332/2/30/18 SB
SS-JR-DOUG JONES-.225/2/18/17 SB
Returning Pitchers MISC
LHP-SO-TYLER JACKSON-2-4/5.34/64.0/13 GS
RHP-JR-RYAN ARROWOOD-8-4/7.36/69.2/14 GS
RHP-SR-TAYLOR MILLER-5-0/3.86/46.2
LHP-JR-WILL HELMS-5-0/3.86/37.1
RHP-SO-NATHAN HYATT-2-3/4.99/48.2
Key Players Lost MISC
2B-WES HOBSON-.404/11/54/22 2B 1ST TEAM ALL CONF/drafted 40th rd
C-JEROD FAGGART-.313/13/47 2ND TEAM ALL CONFERENCE
1B-DAVID TOWARNICKY-.303/9/50
SP-MATT ANDRESS-9-3/5.83/80.1/15 GS
CL-CHRIS PETERSON-4-4/1.67/43.0/13 SV 1ST TEAM ALL CONF drafted 29th rd

Samford-(31-25 overall 17-12 SOCON/5th)

After not making the SOCON tourney in their first year in the SOCON in 2009 Samford had a very good year #2 finishing 5th.  But gone are the top 4 hitters from last years club and return 4 of 9 position starters.  Senior INF Michael Johnson(.330/7/45) returns along with one of the top lefties in the country.  If you have not heard of LHP Lex Rutledge(5-1/1.71/47.1/65 K/11 sv) ,second team all SOCON and Freshman All American, take note he is legit.  After closing as a freshman look for him to move into rotation that does return 2 of 3 regular SP’s from last year.  Bottom line is Samford lost a TON of offense and needs guys to step up to finish near where they did in 2010.

Team: SAMFORD Overall rec/SOCON rec/Finish
2010 RPI: #72 31-25/17-12/5TH
Starters Returning/Lost-4/5
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-2/1
Returning Hitters MISC
INF-SR-MICHAEL JOHNSON-.330/7/45
INF-SR-STEPHEN BALLARD-.271/5/31
C-SR-GARY CRAMER-.330/1/17
C-JR-BRAD MOSS-.248/1/20
Returning Pitchers MISC
LHP-SO-LEX RUTLEDGE-5-1/1.71/47.1/65 K/11 SV 2ND TEAM ALL CONF AND FRESHMAN ALL AMERICAN
RHP-SR-ANDREW JONES-5-3/5.19/60.2
RHP-JR-JOSH MARTIN-5-6/5.72/78.2/15 GS
RHP-JR-KYLE PUTKONEN-3-6/7.71/77.0/16 GS
Key Players Lost MISC
OF-DAVID SCHULZE-.377/12/56 1ST TEAM ALL CONFERENCE
MASON MERIDETH-.365/12/58
TREY HAYES-.358/11/46
OF-WAYNE MILLER-.344/8/42
OF-BO SMITH-.316/3/33
RHP-JONATHAN STEPHANS-7-2/5.64/81.1/15 GS

Furman-(19-37 overall 11-19 SOCON/8th)

It took Furman till the last week of season to get in SOCON tourney last year.  But returning 8 of 9 starters look for that to change this year and Furman has the chance to make some noise.  It appears that SOCON Freshman of Year and Freshman All American, 2B Will Muzika (.329/14/55), will be back along with 2009 SOCON Freshman of the Year DH Reese Wade (.285/4/21) and  OF Will Owens (.351/8/38) among the returning position players.  Losing 2 of 3 weekend starters the must find arms to get outs for Furman to climb the ranks.  Probably not in 2011 but Furman should be in good position in 2012 to make a run at SOCON again when tourney returns to their backyard Fluor Field in Greenville.

Team: FURMAN Overall rec/SOCONrec/Finish
2010 RPI: #240 19-37/11-19/8TH
Starters Returning/Lost-8/1
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-1/2
Returning Hitters Misc
OF-JR-WILL OWENS-.351/8/38
1B-SR-AARON THOMKINS-.342/3/30
OF-JR-WILL MILLER-.313/5/34
C/1B-SO-PAUL NITTO-.300/9/24
DH-JR-REESE WADE-.285/4/21 FRESHMAN OF YEAR IN 2008
2B-SO-WILL MUZIKA-.329/14/55 FRESHMAN OF YEAR IN 2010
Returning Pitchers Misc
LHP-JR-DANIEL STAILSMITH-5-3/5.08/72.2
RHP-SR-JAY FRIEDMAN-1-2/6.49/34.2/1 SV/31 APP
Key Players Lost Misc
3B-BRIAN HARRISON-.367/10/22 Drafted 13th rd
SP-IAN PARRY-5-7/4.51/101.2/89 K/15 GS

HOPING TO MAKE THE TRIP TO BEACH CLUB-

Wofford-(17-38 overall 9-21 SOCON/9th)

If Wofford wants to make it to Charleston they are probably going to have to hit their way to the beach.  One of the best hitters in the conference plays for Wofford, preseason All American JR catcher Mac Doyle(.377/16/75).  Including Doyle Wofford returns 8 of 9 starters and returns all 3 starting pitchers and only lost 3.2 innings out of bullpen but last years staff had a 7.87 ERA so they are going to need to be a lot better if they are to crack the top 8.

Team: WOFFORD Overall rec/SOCON rec/Finish
2010 RPI: 219 17-38/9-21/9TH PLACE
Starters Returning/Lost-8/1
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-3/0
Returning Hitters Misc
C-JR-MAC DOYLE-.377/16/75/23 2B 1ST TEAM ALL CONF
OF-JR-JAMES FOSTER-.387/0/35/18 2B
OF-JR-LANDON BENNETT-.333/4/35/15 2B
Returning Pitchers Misc
RHP-SR-JOHN CORNELY-3-7/6.41/78.2/15 GS
LHP-JR-JD OSBORNE-3-4/7.89/73.0/12 GS
RHP-JR-GUS WHITE-2-5/7.49/45.2/10 GS
Key Players Lost Misc
OF-KYLE BEHRENDT-.374/6/48/19 2B

UNCG-(20-33 overall 7-23 SOCON/10th)

Greensboro had a very disappointing season in 2010.  The good news for UNCG is they return 90% of 2010 wins on the pitching staff.  But the bad news is that is only 18 wins.  They lost 2 starting pitchers and return 2 in RHP Colby Hyatt(7-4/4.29/94.1/9 GS) and RHP Warren Slack(3-10/4.75/89.0/13 GS).  The offense returns 7 of 9 starters but only one guy over .300 in INF Kris Richards(.307).  Their 2010 recruiting class was ranked by collegiate baseball as one of the “Other Top Recruiting Classes” outside the top 40.  2011 looks to be another tough year for UNCG unless the newcomers really step up.

Team: UNCG Overall rec/SOCON rec/Finish
2010 RPI: #226 20-33/7-23/10TH PLACE
Starters Returning/Lost-7/2
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-2/2
Returning Hitters Misc
INF-JR-KRIS RICHARDS-.307/3/17
INF-SO-ERIC BRINDLE-.277/0/20
INF-RAY QUINONES-.256/3/36
Returning Pitchers Misc
RHP-SR-COLBY HYATT-7-4/4.29/94.1/9 GS
RHP-SR-WARREN SLACK-3-10/4.75/89.0/13 GS
RHP-SR-GREG SMITH-4-2/6.70/45.2
Key Players Lost Misc
RHP-HASSLEBROCK-0-7/7.15/11 GS Drafted 8th rd
OF-CORY OVERHOLTZER-.306/6/35
OF-ED JAYJACK-.269/7/46

Davidson-(19-32 overall 5-25 SOCON/11th)

Davidson looks to get back to Charleston this year and returns 7 of 9 position starters.  Included in those 7 is 3B Andrew Barna.329/7/52) who was a Freshman All American last year as well as on the All Freshman SOCON team.  Joining him is 1B Danny Weiss(.368/6/35).  On the mound the Wildcats return 2 of 3 starters.   Davidson should score some runs but in order to get to Charleston they will need to pitch.

Team: DAVIDSON Overall rec/SOCON rec/Finish
2010 RPI: #215 19-32/5-25 11TH PLACE
Starters Returning/Lost-7/2
Starting Pitchers Returning/Lost-2/1
Returning Hitters Misc
SR-1B-DANNY WEIS-.368/6/354
JR-OF-DREW GADAIRE-.346/1/30/18 SB
*SO-3B-ANDREW BARNA-.329/7/52/17 2B FRESHMAN ALL AMERICAN AND ALL SOCON FRESH
SR-OF-SAM PAYNE-.297/8/40
Returning Pitchers Misc
RHP-JR-RYAN OVERCASH-5-4/5.68/65.0/13 GS
LHP-JR-CHRIS LAMB-2-8/8.40/54.2/10 GS
RHP-SR-MIKE FRONGELLO-2-4/4.50/52.0/2 SV
Key Players Lost Misc
LHP-THOMAS MIDDOUR-4-3/5.42/78.0/15 GS

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH-

#1-College of Charleston
#2-WCU
#3-GSU
#4-Citadel
#5-Elon
#6-App St
#7-Samford
#8-Furman
———————————–
#9-Wofford
#10-Davidson
#11-UNCG

Regional Teams(3)-College of Charleston, WCU, GSU, Citadel
Player of Year-OF Cole Rakar (CofC) Sleeper Player of Year-OF Shawn Payne(GSU)
Pitcher of Year-LHP Matt Talley(Citadel)
Sleeper Pitcher of Year-RHP Taylor Sandefur (WCU)
Best 3 game out of conference series- Appalachian St @ Miami 2/24-2/26
Top Conference Series- Citadel @ CofC 4/-4/10 and GSU @ WCU 4/15-4/17
Hardest Schedule- Elon @ NC St (3), @ S. Florida (3), ECU (2), Clemson (2), UNCW (2), Old Dominion (2), UNC
Easiest Schedule- Davidson

Conclusion- CofC is clear favorite but 2-5 is a toss up.  Im going to go out on a limb and say 3 SOCON teams will make a regional for the 2nd year in a row.  CofC will get in unless they implode and the other 2 will come from WCU, Citadel or GSU

  • WCU32

    Anyone like to debate right or wrong picks?

    • http://collegebaseballdaily.com Brian Foley

      I like Elon in the conference and think Wofford will improve more then you give them credit for! rnSent on the Sprintu00ae Now Network from my BlackBerryu00ae

    • http://collegebaseballdaily.com Brian Foley

      I like Elon in the conference and think Wofford will improve more then you give them credit for! rnSent on the Sprintu00ae Now Network from my BlackBerryu00ae

      • Dent

        I like Georgia Southern. They have picked up some pitching help in the bullpen and have speed. With the significant impact of the new bats speed will be very important to score runs.

        • WCU32

          Yes i like Southern as well. A key to their season is going to be Matt Murray. He was pretty darn good and hard nose as a freshman but last year he wasnt very good. I think you will see alot differ Murray this year. They have the fastest outfield in conference probably. Between GSU and Citadel. Payne stole 43 of 45 bags last year. Another key will be sophmore Chris Beck. I liked him last year but he faded and got hurt at end of year. He should be better prepared for long season this year. nn

          • Dent

            Keep an eye out for Eric Philips shortstop. Looks terrific. Also Victor Roache has the potential to have a monster year. I like their outfield and they have the potential to steal alot of bases. It will be very interesting to see how the new bats can hurts teams but also even the field for several teams. I think GSU will benefit.

          • WCU32

            Id move Phillips to 3rd and play the freshman from Augusta or Greenbriar. Think his name is Morgan. Roache is or will be a stud but his leg is still not 100%.

          • Dent

            You know alot about GSU. I think there will be some terrific matchups this season. I take it you are a western Carolina fan?

          • WCU32

            “Dent [Moderator] 3 days ago in reply to WCU32nYou know alot about GSU. I think there will be some terrific matchups this season. I take it you are a western Carolina fan?”nnNO comment. I watch alot of GSU and WCU games.n

          • Dent

            I do understand the connection between the two programs.

          • Akirby32

            Hey ‘Dent’ dont tell ‘Socon for life’ the answer then to my quiz. nnI cant wait to see Moye hit. I hear he has some POP and even playing little 3rd.

          • DJ

            Dont know how App St fits in. Who does WCU play?

          • rsn

            Former WCU player on App St’s coaching staff now. WCU plays Morehead St this weekend and Wake Forrest Tuesday. Wish i could go to either WCU vs Morehead or GSU vs GW.

          • DJ

            I will be down at GSU probably on Sat. The only former WCU player I know is W Tolleson. Good luck.

          • RSN

            Tolleson is a little before my time. I wish his son would have played at WCU. One of GSU’s outfielders is hurt. Think Owens hurt his ankle and probably wont play this weekend.

          • DJ

            Arthur is fine.

          • RSN

            I thought it was Owens maybe i was mistaken. Glad to hear he will be good to go.

          • DJ

            Good luck tonight. This time of year it is difficult to get scores and info on games.

  • wcu32

    Elon lost alot and to many question marks right now. They have to many holes to fill on offense at the moment. And they play a brutal schedule. nnI like Wofford’s offense but Furman got the edge.

  • Big Cat

    Reese Wade from Furman was freshman of the Year in 2008, not 2009. Ross Heffley from WCU was freshman of the Year in 2009.

  • WCU32

    Thanks about Wade i should have caught that. Speaking of Wade, Furman needs him to hit like he did in 2008. He hit .401 in 42 GS in 2008 but only .285 last year. nnOn the subject of Elon. Elon will be good again but they lost 55 HRs from starters last year and 2 of 3 weekend guys that had 15 wins between the 2 of them, including stud lefty Jimmy Reyes 10-4. nnOn the brighter side they have a dam good SS in Pritchard and the catcher Alex Swim is going to be able to fill Melillo’s spot nicely.

  • WCU32

    According to Boydsworld’s Strength of Schedule here is how the SOCON stacks up.nnElon #109nFurman #117nCofC #121nWCU #125nSamford #131nGSU #132nCitadel #139nWofford #146nDavidson #152nUNCG #161nApp St #177nn

  • Ted

    GSU can have a good season pending Phillips errors which he had 23 last season (WOW). With the youth coming in this season for GSU and the bats of Owens, Payne, Roache, Burress & Phillips hopefully they can return to a 40 win season and a strong conference run…..

  • SoCon For Life

    In general the SoCon is going to be down this year, there was too much talent lost not to be. I think it will be a 1 or at best 2 bid league this year. That being said, Charleston is the clear favorite, but they are beatable. Citadel lost too much and usually they fall back after having a good year. Making a regional would be a real stretch for el cit. I like GSU, but every year you think GSU you will put it together, they seem to fall flat. GSU & CofC are loaded offensively, but both have relied heavily on the long ball it will be interesting to see how the new bats come into play. nnAs for Western, they return a lot, but a lot of guys that are not game changers. This should be one of WCU’s better teams and should definately be in the top half of the league. Elon is a team that seems to be flying under the radar. They had their worst offensive team since joing the socon last year and still made a regional. You could make an agrument they will have the best pitching staff top to bottom. It feels like one of those years when you forget about Elon and they pop and have another 45 win season.nnSamford is another team I like. They were much improved last year and have some talent. It would not surprise me if they made a push up to 2nd or 3rd. As for App, this should be a step-back for a program that has come a long way, finishing in the top half of the league would be a good year.nnWofford, Furman, Davidson, uncG, who cares.nn1-CofCn2-Elonn3-GSUn4-Samfordn5-WCU

    • WCU32

      Hey ‘SoCon For Life’,nnLook at what Elon lost!! In the lineup the only one they have back is the stud Pritchard. They lost 55 HRs from the starting lineup. Riddle was big loss as he is working out trying to make a NFL team. They do have a very good staff and Kennedy is one of best coaches in SOCON but they will not be the team they have been in last few years. But will be in top 5 thats for surennSamford lost even more then Elon. Lost top 4 hitters and 5 of top 6 hitters. Only starter back who hit over .300 is Michael Johnson who hit .330/7/45. Rutledge may be the best pitcher in league but the rest of team not very good. Dont forget Samford went from 17 wins in 2009 to 31 in 2010. They lost nearly all of those players. nnn

      • SoCon For Life

        Hey WCU32, I see you are a typical WCU by yelling. No need to get upset because I picked WCU 5th. My prediction is worth what you paid for it…nothing.nnThe guys you speak of for Elon; Hinson, Mellilo, Riddle, Adams, with the exception of Mellilo were all one year guys. While they had been in the program for a while, they never played meaningful innings. Elon has lost some big time players each year over the past 2-3 seasons, so last year, you may recall was suppose to be the “down year” for Elon. I don’t count Hilt as a loss, losing Mellilo will hurt, but he was limited the final 1/3 of the season with injury and Swim was more than able back-up as a freshman. It really doesn’t matter the name on the back of the jersey for them, if you don’t put up big numbers you won’t get on the field at Elon, they don’t rebuild, they reload.nnElon and CofC are the only 2 teams in the conference that have programs at level where they consistently compete for a championship. Everyone else has teams that will occasionally make a run. Until further notice the conference championship goes through Charleston and Elon. n

        • WCU32

          I wasnt yelling at anyone. Dont care if you picked WCU 11th just wanted to hear why Elon and Samford so high. Did you watch Elon play at the end of the year? They were not very good at all. nnYes i like Swim kid alot too. nnElon and CofC for the last 6-7 years have had the most success. But only 6-7 years. How many tourney championships has CofC won? CofC has won 1 in 2006 and has gone 22-19 in SOCON tourney games since joining the SOCON in 1999. Elon also has just 1 in 2008 and has gone 15-10 in SOCON tourney. nnSince 2000nSOCON Tourney Championshipsn3-GSU-2000, 2002, 2009n3-Citadel-2001, 2004, 2010n1-Elon-2008n1-CofC-2006n1-WCU-2003n1-Wofford-2007n1-Furman-2005nLooks to me like the SOCON goes through Citadel and GSU. nnnnnnnn

          • SoCon For Life

            Elon has only been in the SoCon for 7 years and they have won the regular season title 3 times, guess who won the other 4, Charleston. So for the past 7 years its either Charleston or Elon. If you want to win the SoCon you will have to beat Charleston and Elon, any coach, player, or bat boy will tell you that. The tournament is nothing more than who gets hot for a weekend. Charleston and Elon are more concerned about setting their pitching up for the regional than winning a tournament title.nnYou said Elon was not very good at the end of the year, I agree. They had patchwork lineup, see my reference to their worst offense since joining the league. It was you saying look at all the talent they lost, now you are saying they were not very good, which is it? You made my point for me, Elon was not very good by Elon standards last year, and they still managed to make a regional. I would expect an improved team this year. Improved but not as good as Charleston, makes them #2 in my book.nnI love this breaking down of teams. Who do you want next?….. Ga Southern? The Citadel? App State?

          • SoCon For Life

            WCU32 you look like a stat nut, so I’m sure you say my mistake Citadel won it last year not Charleston. So Elon and Charleston have won 6 out the last 7. But my point still stands.

          • WCU32

            Ill agree with all of that. The SOCON needs to keep this level of play up. Ive been trying to tell my other SOCON buddies that the current SOCON is alot better then when i played or when they played. Ive thought we would should get 3 teams in now for 2 or 3 years and last year we finally did. Last year we had what 7 teams with RPI 75 or less. I just dont think that will happen this year. My prediction of 3 teams getting in is going to be hard. Especially with Citadel losing Clevinger i think that drops them back to 5th. nnI love what Elon does. Kennedy will schedule anyone anywhere. That is why they have been to 3 strait regionals. In my opinion i dont think they will be in that position this year. I hope they prove me wrong. nnCofC has become the top team in the league there is no question about that. I like the way the play now alot better then a few years ago. Some of them acted like punks and i thought they lost something in Lee’s first year the way they played in the tourney in Greenville. But that definetly earned my respect with the game vs WCU in the tourney last year. They showed alot that game and it was dam impressive by both clubs. nnYes let me get your opinion on GSU, App and WCU. Here is a little quiz for you also. What do all 3 of those teams have in common??? Its easy one the answer is in my post. :)nn

          • SoCon For Life

            Pollard has done a nice job improving the talent at App, but they have started to hit their ceiling. Pollard’s techinque of recruiting 15 guys a year and throwing them against the wall to see who sticks worked when App was one of the worst teams in the conference, but that will not get them to the next level. He is also one the worst in-game coaches in the SoCon, not to hate on Pollard he really has done a great job of making App competitive, but we are starting to see his limitations.nnHobson, Faggart were guys that I really liked and those losses will hurt. Andress was a workhorse that needs to be replaced, and Towarnicky was someone that provided some pop. They really dont have anyone to replace those guyes. They do have some talent returning. I like Crespo’s game a lot, one of my favorite players in the SoCon. He should be all-conference, but rumor has it a freshman has moved him off 3B, which means they must be high that freshman. Jones is probably the best defensive SS in the conference but he is an automatic out plate, it will be interesting to see if he remains in the line-up. Zupcic had a nice freshman year, but he is going to have to hit in the middle of their line up, which I dont think he can do. Holmes (a transfer) and Dowdy are going to have to carry they load if App wants to be competitive.nnAny finish higher than 5th, will be a good year.nBut App’s pitching is what is going to kill them this year. They have some some arms but there is nobody that scares you when they are on the bump. I like Jackson, I think he will figure some things out this year a turn into their best arm. But everyone else is Joe Righty.

          • WCU32

            Pollard has done a really nice job with App. If you want a pitcher to watch keep an eye on Hyatt for App St. He was 92-94 in fall and nasty. Dont see them finishing above 6th but next year they will be alot better. nnThat is App now what about GSU and WCU?

          • wcu32

            Where are my GSU and WCU previews????

          • http://collegebaseballdaily.com Brian Foley

            I clearly see them!

          • WCU32

            I was asking ‘socon for life’ where his previews for GSU and WCU are. He said loved breaking them down and did App St and left?

          • DJ

            Looks like WCU is off to a strong start.

          • DJ

            Looks like WCU is off to a strong start.

          • RSN

            WCU swept a bad Morehead St team and dropped a fly ball with 2 outs in bottom of 9th to Wake Forest to lose so ill disagree they are off to strong start. They are playing alot of freshman so there may be a few games like the Wake Forest game.

  • DJ

    Owens is fine.

    • RSN

      I was wrong it was Scooter that hurt his ankle.

    • RSN

      I was wrong it was Scooter that hurt his ankle.