FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
MACON, Ga. – Mercer enters the 2014 Atlantic Sun Baseball season as the favorite to take the conference crown as the Bears own seven first-place votes from the league coaches and landed five student-athletes on the preseason all-conference team.
Mercer’s Chesny Young was tabbed the A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year after winning the title last year, while his teammate Michael Massi, a second basemen, was selected as the league’s top defensive player. The league coaches labeled USC Upstate’s Chad Sobotka as the Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Massi and Young were also named to the 13-person preseason all-conference team alongside their teammates; starting pitcher Brandon Barker, relief pitcher Dimiti Kourtis and designated hitter Nick Backlund. Young and Backlund were unanimous selections to the squad.
North Florida sits in second place in the league poll with one first-place vote. Starting pitcher Tyler Moore and outfielder Donnie Dewees represent the Ospreys on the preseason squad after UNF finished last season with a 40-19 record.
FGCU garnered two first-place votes for third place in the coaches poll with 73 points just ahead of ETSU with 69 points. The Buccaneers’ Clinton Freeman secured an all-conference nod as an outfielder. Freeman also serves as a pitcher for ETSU.
The Owls of Kennesaw State sit fifth in the preseason poll, but placed three student-athletes on the all-conference team. Catcher Max Pentecost is joined by shortstop Kal Simmons and outfielder Bo Way. Patrick Mazeika, an unanimous selection, represents sixth-place Stetson as the sophomore first baseman earned the A-Sun Freshman of the Year honors last season.
Lipscomb sits seventh in preseason poll ahead of USC Upstate. Sobotka was the lone selection to the preseason team for the Spartans. Jacksonville and Northern Kentucky round out the preseason rankings.
The A-Sun had the fans participate in the Preseason All-Conference awards as they voted on Facebook for the Preseason Player, Pitcher and Defensive Players of the Year. FGCU swept all three honors as Zack Tillery was tabbed the A-Sun Fan-Voted Preseason Player of the Year, while Michael Murray was selected as the Fan-Voted Preseason Pitcher of the Year. The Fan-Voted Preseason Defensive Player of the Year accolade went to Alex Diaz.
Preseason All-Conference Player Notes:
• Tyler Moore: Posted a 0.79 ERA last season with 2-0 record; fanned 88 batters in 2012
• Chad Sobotka: Made 26 appearances out of the bullpen last season with seven saves
• Brandon Barker: His 2.66 ERA ranked sixth in A-Sun, while striking out 79 batters (3rd-best)
• Dimitri Kourtis: Led A-Sun with nine saves last season; appeared in 34 contests with 2.94 ERA
• Max Pentecost: Batted .302 with 14 doubles, 30 RBI and 36 runs scored
• Patrick Mazeika: 2013 A-Sun Freshman of the Year; batted .382 with 11 doubles and 33 RBI
• Michael Massi: Registered a .989 fielding percentage with only three errors on the season
• Chesny Young: His .401 batting average led the A-Sun with 105 hits, 56 runs scored and 65 RBI
• Kal Simmons: Hit .289 for the year with 11 doubles and 27 RBI; netted 12 sacrifice hits
• Clinton Freeman: Smashed 10 homers with a 57 RBI and 18 doubles for a .569 slugging percentage
• Donnie Dewees: Ranked fourth in A-Sun for batting (.347) with 19 doubles and 47 RBI
• Bo Way: Secured 75 hits for a .313 average and 27 RBI; legged out four triples
• Nick Backlund: Led A-Sun with 68 RBI, 22 doubles, 13 home runs and a .579 slugging percentage