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2012 Atlantic Sun Preseason Coaches Poll

FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
MACON, Ga. – Stetson and Jacksonville sit atop the 2012 Atlantic Sun Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll after landing a combined six student-athletes on the all-conference team. The Hatters’ Kurt Schluter earned the Preseason Pitcher of the Year honor, while the Dolphins’ Adam Brett Walker received Player of the Year recognition for the upcoming season.

A junior starting pitcher, Schluter netted eight wins against no losses in 10 starts last season with a 1.40 ERA. In league contests, he posted a 5-0 record with a 0.97 ERA and 37 strikeouts. Walker finished 2011 as the conference leader in batting average (.409), hits (99), total bases (165) and doubles (23), while ending second in slugging percentage (.682) and runs batted in (74). He added 13 home runs and 14 stolen bases.

Three members of Schluter’s infield picked up preseason honors as Robert Crews, Mark Jones and Ben Carhart joined their starting pitcher. Jones and Crews both earned First Team All-Conference honors in 2011 after posting nearly identical batting averages, .333 and .332, respectively. The middle infielders contributed to Stetson’s .965 fielding percentage, which ranked third in the conference. A third baseman, Carhart ranked in the top four on Stetson for batting average (.323), slugging percentage (.462), hits (81), RBI (63), home runs (7) and total bases (116).

Outfielders Dan Gulbransen and Dylan Craig joined Walker and ETSU’s Dylan Pratt as the four unanimous choices to the preseason list. Kennesaw State’s Aaron Dobbs completed the Atlantic Sun outfield after finishing last season with seven triples and 21 stolen bases.

Mercer’s pitching duo of Brandon Love and David Teasley captured preseason nods. Love, a starting pitcher, capped 2011 with an 8-1 record and 66 strikeouts to go along with his 3.26 ERA. The Bears’ relief pitcher, Teasley made 32 appearances last season and struck out 42 batters in 45.1 innings of work.

Belmont’s Matt Hamann concluded the A-Sun pitching staff. He compiled a 9-2 record last season with a 2.81 ERA and posted two complete games. Kennesaw State’s Ronnie Freeman claimed the final spot on the all-conference team as the catcher. Freeman ranked third in the conference in batting average (.392), hits (85), on-base percentage (.487) and fourth in slugging (.622).

The Hatters earned nine of ten first-place votes from the coaches in the preseason poll after capturing last year’s regular-season crown with a 23-7 conference record. Stetson and Jacksonville earned at-large bids to the NCAA Baseball Tournament last season and joined Belmont to make the A-Sun a multiple-bid conference for first time since 2007. The trio of teams combined for five wins in regional play – the most victories by the conference since 2002.

Kennesaw State earned the third spot in the coaches poll just ahead of the Bruins. Mercer and FGCU took the next two spots with the Eagles earning the remaining first-place vote in the poll. ETSU’s Derek Bushey was voted the Preseason Pitcher of the Year on Facebook by Atlantic Sun fans, while Belmont was predicted to win the regular season and championship titles via the social media site.

The Hatters were picked by the league coaches to win the 2012 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship on May 23-26 at Melching Field in DeLand, Fla.