With the start of college baseball season less than a month away, oere at College Baseball Daily we’re previewing each team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. We will earlier started with the Atlantic Division and now the Coastal Division.
Preseason ACC Coastal Division Predictions
- North Carolina
- Miami, FL
- Georgia Tech
- Virginia Tech
The Virginia baseball team has been picked as the 2015 ACC favorite for the second straight year by the leagues 14 Head Coaches. As well as being picked number 1 in the ACC, Virginia was ranked number 2 nationally by Perfect Game for the upcoming 2015 season.
The Cavaliers return 14 letterwinners from its 2014 team that went 53-16 and reached the College World Series Finals. Among the 14 letterwinners that are returning is the entire pitching rotation; LHP Nathan Kirby, (Jr. Midlothian, Va.) LHP Brandon Waddell (Jr. Houston, TX.) and RHP Josh Sborz (Jr. McLeon, Va.) and also five key position players.
Kirby and Waddell each have been named preseason All-Americans, as well as junior outfielder Joe McCarthy. (Scranton, Pa.).
The 2015 North Carolina Tar Heels have been picked to finish second in the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels are coming off a 35-27 overall record with a 15-15 ACC mark. The Heels have also received a national ranking of 17 according to the sports outlet Perfect Game.
Key returners for the North Carolina Tar Heels include sophomore pitcher Reilly Hovas, sophomore pitcher Trent Thornton, and sophomore outfielder Tyler Ramierez. Hovas and Thornton snagged All-Conference honors in 2014 for their work on the bump, but Tyler Ramierez looked extremely good in the fall and has carried his hot bat into Sundays inters quad scrimmage where he hit two home runs in two days.
The number 10 ranked team in the nation according to Perfect Game’s top 25 rankings is The University of Miami. The Hurricanes have been picked to finish third in the Coastal Division behind North Carolina and The University of Virginia. The Hurricanes finished the 2014 campaign 44-19 overall and 24-6 in ACC play. Head Coach Jim Morris’ team also took home their second ACC Regular Season Championship in program history and gained a top seed at the ACC Baseball Championship in Greensboro, NC.
The Hurricanes return a number of key contributors from last season both on the mound and in the field. The most notable returnee for The U is Baseball Americas National Freshmen of the Year and this years preseason first-team All-American Zach Collins. In addition to Collins is preseason second-team All-American LHP Andrew Suarez and preseason third-team All-American Bryan Garcia. Supplying help for the three All-Americans are nine other players that Perfect Game ranked in the top 100 player breakdowns by class. The Hurricanes look to make a run for another Coastal Division Title and a College World Series birth in 2015.
Last years ACC Tournament winners, Georgia Tech have been selected to finish fourth in the Coastal Division of the ACC behind Miami, North Carolina and Virginia. Georgia Tech is coming off a 37-27 overall record where they went 14-16 in ACC play. In addition to the prediction of finishing fourth in the Coastal Division the Yellow Jackets received a 26 preseason national ranking from Collegiate Baseball Fabulous 40.
Georgia Tech returns key players starting with second team All-ACC selections Thomas Smith (Sr.) and Matt Gonzalez. (Jr.) Smith batted .301 with 69 hits, 10 doubles, 36 RBIs and 2 home runs while Gonzalez batted .314 with 80 hits, 21 doubles, 37 RBIs, and 1 home run. The two sluggers will have to continue leading the offense for Georgia Tech if Coach Hall hopes to win the ACC Coastal Division and make a bid for the ACC Championship in Durham, NC.
The Duke Blue Devils are picked to finish fifth in the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke went 33-25 overall and 16-14 in a surprising 2014 campaign that saw the Dukies make it all the way to the ACC Tournament.
Junior RHP Michael Matuella and senior RHP Andrew Istler are the leaders of the Duke Blue Devils baseball team. The two pitchers were recognized on Perfect Game’s list of the top 100 juniors and top 100 seniors as announced by the organization earlier this month. Matuella was ranked as the no. 1 college junior while Istler was ranked the no. 29 college senior. Perfect Game also selected Matuella as a third team Preseason All-American and MLB.com selected him the No. 2 prospect for the 2015 MLB Draft.
Matuella ranked second on the team with a 2.78 ERA in 11 starts, struck out 69 batters, held opponents to a team-best .190 batting average and ranked among the top 10 in the program’s single season records in WHIP (0.95 – 10th). Andrew Istler pitched himself to an 8-8 record with a 2.84 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched.
The Virginia Tech Hokies are picked to finish sixth behind Virginia, North Carolina, Miami, Georgia Tech and Duke. The Hookies finished the 2014 season with a 21-31 overall record and a 9-21 ACC mark.
The Hokies have returning redshirt sophomore, Saige Jenco and senior infielder, Brendon Hayden. Jenco and Hayden should account for the majority of the Tech offense and look to bring their success at the plate from last year into the 2015 Virginia Tech lineup.
Jenco finished the 2014 campaign second on the team in batting average .323 only behind ACC All-Conference selection, Mark Zagunis. Jenco also started in all 53 games, had 62 hits, 5 doubles and 16 RBIs. Hayden finished third on the team in batting average .302 and also started all 53 games for the Hokies. Hayden had 60 hits, 16 doubles, 7 homeruns and 43 RBIs. If the Hokies are looking to advance past the sixth place seed in the Coastal Division they will need these two sluggers to contribute all year long.
Rounding out the Coastal Division is The University of Pittsburgh at the number seven seed. Pittsburgh capped off their first year in the ACC with an 11-19-league mark and a 22-30 overall record.
During the Panthers first season in ACC play their 11-19 mark doesn’t tell the entire story. Pittsburgh recorded over half of their wins against ranked opponents witch is building blocks for Head Coach Joe Jordano. The ACC is considered one of the top conferences in all of college baseball and right now Pittsburgh is focused on finding the right pieces and taking each game, pitch by pitch.