FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Defending champion Charlotte has been tabbed to claim its third-straight Atlantic 10 Conference Baseball title in 2012, according to a vote of the league’s 13 head coaches. Rhode Island and Dayton round out the top three, respectively.
Charlotte is in search of a fifth Atlantic 10 Conference title since joining the league six seasons ago. The 49ers welcome back 24 letterwinners, including 13 pitchers – four starters – and four starting position players from a team that finished 43-16 last year and won its opening game over No. 19 Arkansas in the Tempe, Ariz. regional round of the NCAA Tournament. Charlotte is one of only seven teams in college baseball with a winning percentage better than 70 percent (70.1) over the last six seasons. The 49ers are also among just 14 teams with a Top 75 win percentage in each of the last six seasons. Redshirt senior starting pitcher Andrew Smith, a 2011 Third-Team All-American and reigning Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year, was recently selected to the 12th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) preseason All-America team and was named to the Louisville Slugger/TPX preseason All-America third-team.
Smith finished 10-4 for the 49ers in 2011, with a 1.81 ERA, second-lowest in program history for any Charlotte pitcher with more than 50 innings pitched. His ERA ranked him 25th in the country last season, tied for 24th in win total in Division I. He led the team with 109.1 innings pitched and 92 strikeouts.
Rhode Island earned its ninth-straight trip to the A-10 Championship last season and will seek the program’s second league title and first since 2005. Last year’s Conference Coach of the Year, Jim Foster returns for his seventh campaign in Kingston and welcomes back a trio of All-Conference selections in outfielder Greg Annarummo, shortstop Mike LeBel and designated hitter Jeff Cammans. Annarummo, the Rams lone first-team selection, posted a .341 average to go along with 59 hits – 17 of which were for extra bases – 34 runs and 34 RBI. He recorded 17 multiple-hit and 10 multiple-RBI games and finished the regular season ranked fourth in the conference with a .378 average in Atlantic 10 games.
Dayton head coach Tony Vittorio, in his 13th season with the Flyers, returns a solid core of players that helped UD to a third-place conference finish in 2011. Two weekend starting pitchers and five starters from the field return, including the senior duo of Brian Blasik and C.J. Gillman. Gillman set two single-season marks in at-bats (241) and hits (91) last year, while Blasik tied the stolen bases milestone with 23 despite playing in just 44 of UD’s 59 games. Blasik and Gillman, along with right-handed pitcher Burny Mitchem, who maintained a 2.07 ERA in 2011, will help the Flyers seek their second A-10 title since 2009.
Xavier was picked fourth in the coaches’ preseason indicator, while last year’s runner-up Richmond was selected to finish fifth, followed by Saint Louis (sixth) and Fordham (seventh). La Salle and Saint Joseph’s tied for the eighth spot, while St. Bonaventure (10th), George Washington (11th), Massachusetts (12th) and Temple (13th) close out the 13-team field.
After spending the past five seasons at a neutral facility, the six-team, double-elimination A-10 Baseball Championship will return to campus in 2012. This year’s event will be played May 23-26 at Houlihan Park on the campus of Fordham University in Bronx, N.Y. The Championship game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network on Saturday, May 26 at 12:00PM ET.
Team (2011 Overall/A-10 Record) – Points
1. Charlotte (43-16/17-7) – 167 points
2. Rhode Island (31-22/16-8) – 140 points
3. Dayton (32-27/15-9) – 129 points
4. Xavier (30-27/14-10) – 124 points
5. Richmond (29-27/13-11) – 123 points
6. Saint Louis (29-26/10-14) – 95 points
7. Fordham (31-23/12-11) – 80 points
8. La Salle (28-26/13-11) – 74 points
8. Saint Joseph’s (21-31/11-13) – 74 points
10. St. Bonaventure (23-23/13-11) -57 points
11. George Washington (19-36/9-15) – 55 points
12. Massachusetts (17-29/8-15) – 38 points
13. Temple (24-29/4-20) – 27 points