FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
RICHMOND, Va. (January 26, 2012) – James Madison, which captured the CAA baseball championship for the second time in four years last season, has been picked to win the conference title again in 2012 according to a vote of the CAA’s head baseball coaches.
The Dukes received five first-place votes and finished atop the poll with 94 points. UNCW garnered two first-place votes and was close behind in second with 88 points. Old Dominion got two first-place tallies and was chosen third with 76 points and Georgia State also got two first-place votes and was fourth with 74 points. VCU placed fifth in the voting, followed by George Mason, Delaware and William & Mary (tied for 7th), Towson, Hofstra and Northeastern.
JMU returns five everyday starters from a 42-19 squad that finished atop the CAA regular-season standings for the second year in a row with a 21-9 mark. Leading the list of returnees is junior outfielder Johnny Bladel (.360, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 26 SB), who earned 2nd team All-CAA honors and was chosen as the Most Outstanding Player at the CAA Baseball Championship. Also back is 3rd-team All-CAA infielder/pitcher Ty McFarland (.278, 2 HR, 36 RBI) and junior catcher/infielder Bradley Shaban (.271, 5 HR, 30 RBI). The Dukes also feature a pair of veteran pitchers in All-CAA pick Sean Tierney (10-1, 3.43 ERA) and senior Evan Scott (4-3, 5.94 ERA).
UNCW posted a 31-28 record a year ago and has four All-CAA performers returning to its starting lineup. Topping that group is senior outfielder Thomas Pope, who led the CAA with a .396 batting average in 2011 and received preseason All-America honors from the NCBWA. Also back are junior first baseman Hunter Ridge (.354, 9 HR, 60 RBI), senior third baseman/catcher Matt Campbell (.337, 6 HR, 26 RBI) and junior outfielder Andrew Cain (.302, 10 HR, 48 RBI), who all made the All-CAA second team. Senior Tyler McSwain (5-5, 4.97 ERA) and sophomore William Prince (0-2, 5 svs., 3.86 ERA) return on the hill for the Seahawks.
Old Dominion, which went 30-26 a year ago, begins its first season under coach Chris Finwood. Among seven returning starters from a year ago are 1st team All-CAA shortstop Josh Wright (.369, 12 HR, 44 RBI, 18 SB), senior first baseman Chris Baker (.297, 10 HR, 63 RBI) and sophomore designated hitter Joey Burney (.257, 8 HR, 34 RBI), who was a Freshman All-America selection. The Monarchs also have two of their top starting pitchers back in seniors Ben Tomchick (8-4, 3.14 ERA) and Phil McCarthy (9-4, 4.05 ERA).
Georgia State had a 37-21 overall mark last season and earned a berth in the CAA Tournament for the third year in a row. Back to lead the Panthers is senior infielder Brandon Williams (.342, 1 HR, 36 RBI), who earned 1st team All-CAA honors, and junior infielder Drew Shields (.321, 0 HR, 20 RBI), who made the All-CAA second team as a designated hitter. GSU’s pitching staff includes senior Justin Malone (7-1, 3.81 ERA) and senior All-CAA closer Jake Dyer (3-0, 8 svs., 1.67 ERA), who received preseason All-America honors from the NCBWA.
2012 CAA BASEBALL PRESEASON PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. James Madison (5 first-place votes) 95
2. UNCW (2 first-place votes) 88
3. Old Dominion (2 first-place votes) 76
4. Georgia State (2 first-place votes) 74
5. VCU 63
6. George Mason 46
t7. Delaware 44
t7. William and Mary 44
9. Towson 30
10. Hofstra 27
11. Northeastern 19