FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
The defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) tournament champion Bethune-Cookman Wildcats were selected unanimously to win the 2011 MEAC Baseball Championship title by the conference’s head baseball coaches and sports information directors.
Bethune-Cookman junior catcher Peter O’ Brien was named the Preseason Player of the Year, while North Carolina A&T senior Esterlin Paulino earned Preseason Pitcher of the Year accolades.
The Wildcats (35-22) won their fifth consecutive MEAC crown and recorded an unblemished 18-0 mark in MEAC play last season. B-CU welcomes back a host of veteran leadership along with 11 newcomers that will vie for their 15th MEAC title.
North Carolina A&T, who advanced to last year’s tournament finale, was predicted to finish second. Norfolk State was chosen to finish third, followed by Delaware State, Florida A&M, Maryland Eastern Shore and Coppin State.
O’Brien, the 2010 MEAC Player of the Year, led the conference and was 25th in the nation with 20 home runs and a slugging percentage of .744. He recorded a .374 batting average with 78 hits, 13 doubles, and 56 RBI. The catcher added 377 putouts and 61 assists during the 2010 campaign. In addition to MEAC Preseason honors, O’Brien was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Louisville Slugger, and College Baseball Lineup All-American Preseason Teams.
Paulino led the conference in earned run average (3.27) and opposing batting average (.262). The senior recorded a 9-2 record in 88.0 innings, while striking out 75 batters and allowing 23 walks. Paulino tallied a 3.27 ERA against MEAC opponents while posting a 4-1 record and striking out 36 batters in 38.1 innings.
Joining O’Brien and Paulino on the Preseason Team are Ali Simpson (B-CU), Ryan Shook (NSU), Ryan Durrence (B-CU), Marquis Riley (NCAT), Chris Joyce (NSU), DJ Leonard (B-CU), Xavier Macklin (NCAT), John Lynch (NSU) and Bryan Chaikowsky (UMES).
The 2011 MEAC Baseball Championship tournament is scheduled for May 19-21, at the Jackie Robinson Stadium in Daytona Beach, Florida.