Bucs picked seventh in Big South Preseason Baseball Poll

Bucs picked seventh in Big South Preseason Baseball Poll

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charleston Southern has been picked seventh in the 2016 Big South Preseason Baseball Poll in a vote by the league's Head Baseball Coaches, it was announced today by the Conference office. The Bucs received 52 points in the poll and were selected just behind Campbell.

CSU officially opens practice tomorrow with a scrimmage at 4 p.m. at CSU Ballpark. The Bucs host West Virginia to open the season with a three-game series beginning Feb. 19 and will play 13 their first 15 games at home.

The Buccaneers return a number of key pieces from their 2015 squad that finished seventh in Big South play. Junior third baseman Nate Blanchard led the Bucs with a .325 average and had a 21-game hitting streak late in the season, among the nation's longest of the 2015 season. Senior RHP Evan Raynor, and his four Big South wins from a season ago, returns to anchor the Bucs' rotation which had a CSU record 471 strikeouts last season.

CSU head coach Stuart Lake begins his eighth season at the helm of the Buc program. He enters the season tied for the most Big South wins in CSU history with 75 and needs 26 wins to become CSU's all-time wins leader (Gary Murphy, 183).

For the first time since 2012, Coastal Carolina baseball team has been voted the Big South Conference's outright preseason favorite. Coastal was the near-unanimous selection to win the Big South crown in 2016, as the Chants received 10 of the 11 first-place votes and finished with 120 out of a possible 121 total points.  Coastal Carolina is coming off its 14th NCAA Tournament berth after finishing as the league's runner-up in 2015.

Winthrop was second in the preseason poll with 102 points -- its highest position in the preseason ranking since being picked the favorite in 2007. Liberty was picked third with 99 points, while High Point finished fourth in the voting with 83 points -- just ahead of defending Big South Champion Radford (fifth with 81 points). Campbell landed in the sixth spot with 74 points, just ahead of the Bucs. Longwood garnered eighth-place (40 points), followed by Presbyterian College (ninth, 31 points), Gardner-Webb (10th, 23 points) and UNC Asheville (11th, 21 points). Campbell is eligible for the league's regular-season championship but not the conference tournament in 2016 due to its most recent APR score.

In addition, the coaches voted High Point junior outfielder Josh Greene (Ocala, Fla.) the Conference's Preseason Player of the Year and Winthrop junior Matt Crohan (Jamesport, N.Y.) the league's Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

Greene, a two-time All-Big South honoree in his first two seasons at High Point, led the Panthers last season with a .355 batting average, 66 hits, 37 RBI and a .441 on-base percentage, and was second with 36 runs scored. He was 13-of-17 on the bases paths and slugged .532 on the year. Greene ranked fifth in the Big South in batting, fourth in OBA, sixth in slugging and 11th in homers. In 24 conference games in 2015, he finished in the league's Top 10 for batting (.395), runs (17) and RBI (23).  The first High Point player to be voted Preseason Player of the Year, Greene received four first-place votes and 19 points to edge out Campbell's Cole Hallum, who finished second with 18 points and three first-place nods. Coastal Carolina's Michael Paez was third in the preseason voting with 14 points (three first-place votes).

Crohan, who has been rated among the top 75 NCAA Division I prospects this preseason, posted a 7-4 record with 87 strikeouts in 76.2 innings as a sophomore last year. He held opponents to a .220 batting average, which was fourth-best in the Big South. Selected to play for Team USA this past summer, Crohan went 5-2 in his seven conference starts with a 2.59 earned run average and 55 strikeouts in 48.2 innings of work.  Big South batters mustered a .180 hitting clip off the lefthander in 2015. Crohan is just the second Winthrop hurler to receive the league's preseason pitching honor, as he received six first-place votes and 26 total points in the voting. Coastal Carolina's Bobby Holmes was second (12 points, two first-place votes), followed by Liberty's Victor Cole (11 points and two first-place votes).

The 2016 Big South baseball season begins Friday, February 19 with all 11 teams in action. The first conference meeting is set for the weekend of March 18-20, while the 2016 Big South Baseball Championship presented by Hardee's is slated for May 24-28. Information on the host site of the postseason tournament will be announced soon.

2016 Big South Conference Preseason Baseball Poll

   Rk    Team (first-place votes)            1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9       10       11    Points

     1.    Coastal Carolina (10)                10          1         --         --         --         --         --         --         --         --         --         120

     2.    Winthrop                                        --          6          4         --         --          1         --         --         --         --         --         102

     3.    Liberty                                            --          4          4          2          1         --         --         --         --         --         --           99

     4.    High Point                                      --         --          1          5          4          1         --         --         --         --         --           83

     5.    Radford                                          --         --          2          3          3          3         --         --         --         --         --           81

     6.    Campbell (1)                                  1         --         --          1          3          4          2         --         --         --         --           74

     7.    Charleston Southern                    --         --         --         --         --          2          5          3          1         --         --           52

     8.    Longwood                                      --         --         --         --         --         --          3          3          3          2         --           40

     9.    Presbyterian College                     --         --         --         --         --         --          1          2          3          4          1           31

  10.    Gardner-Webb                               --         --         --         --         --         --         --          1          3          3          4           23

  11.    UNC Asheville                               --         --         --         --         --         --         --          2          1          2          6           21

Note: points are based on a weighted system, with first-place votes receiving 11 points, followed by 10 points for second-place, and so on. 

 

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