The 2009 Southern Conference regular season champion, Elon, and tournament champion, Georgia Southern, have been tabbed co-favorites for the 2010 campaign in balloting of the league’s 11 baseball coaches. The media members who cover SoCon baseball have selected Elon as the top team in 2010, narrowly edging out GSU.
The Phoenix received five of 11 possible first-place votes and 91 points from the league’s head coaches while garnering 13 of 27 first-place nods on the media ballots. Coach Mike Kennedy’s team returns three starters in the field and 12 of 15 pitchers from the 2009 team which went 23-4 in the SoCon and 41-18 overall en route to winning its second consecutive league regular season title.
Georgia Southern equaled Elon’s 91 points in the coaches’ balloting while also receiving four first-place votes. The Eagles, under the guidance of Rodney Hennon, finished second in the SoCon regular season race a year ago at 20-8 and 42-17 overall before claiming the 2009 SoCon Baseball Championship crown in Greenville, S.C. The Eagles enter 2010 with five returning starters in the field and 9 of 12 pitchers from last season.
In the coaches poll, The Citadel earned a pair of first place votes while ranking third with 80 points. Following the Bulldogs in fourth was cross-town rival College of Charleston with 76 points. Western Carolina (71 points) was predicted to place fifth in the standings, followed by Appalachian State (50), Samford (40) and Furman (33) in the sixth, seventh and eighth spots, respectively. Rounding out the rankings were UNC Greensboro (31), Davidson (24) and Wofford (18).
In the media balloting, College of Charleston (237 points) grabbed two first-place votes and the third slot, trailed by The Citadel (231) with one first place nod. Western Carolina (190), Appalachian State (173) and Furman (110) filled slots five through seven while Samford (92), UNC Greensboro (89), Davidson (65) and Wofford (52) finished the standings.
Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams in the voting process.
The 2010 Southern Conference baseball season begins on Friday, February 19 with all 11 league teams in action. The 2010 Southern Conference Baseball Championship will be held from May 26-30 at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in Charleston, S.C.
2010 SoCon Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll
Place School (First) Points
1t. Elon (5) 91
1t. Georgia Southern (4) 91
3. The Citadel (2) 80
4. College of Charleston 76
5. Western Carolina 71
6. Appalachian State 50
7. Samford 40
8. Furman 33
9. UNC Greensboro 31
10. Davidson 24
11. Wofford 18
2010 SoCon Baseball Preseason Media Poll
Place School (First) Points
1. Elon (12) 253
2. Georgia Southern (10) 250
3. College of Charleston (2) 219
4. The Citadel (1) 213
5. Western Carolina 178
6. Appalachian State 159
7. Furman 103
8. UNC Greensboro 84
9. Samford 82
10. Davidson 60
11. Wofford 49
The Southern Conference baseball coaches have selected a preseason all-conference team, headlined by Preseason Player of the Year Joey Bergman of College of Charleston and Preseason Pitcher of the Year Jimmy Reyes of Elon.
Ten of the 11 SoCon baseball teams have at least one representative on the team led by Elon’s six selections and The Citadel’s four.
Bergman led the country in both runs (88) and on base percentage (.551) in 2009 while finishing second nationally with a .452 batting average. The senior, who split time between shortstop and third base a season ago, also hit 15 home runs and had 57 RBIs while recording two or more hits in 35 of the 56 games. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Bergman is one of three returning starters in the lineup for head coach Monte Lee’s Cougars.
Reyes, a junior left-handed pitcher, was a perfect 8-0 in 14 starts last season. The ace of the Phoenix staff, Reyes amassed 101 strikeouts in 84.2 innings of work while only surrendering 19 walks. Originally from Miami, Fla., Reyes enters the 2010 season with an 11-0 career record as a collegiate pitcher.
Joining Reyes on the first team as pitchers are The Citadel’s Matt Talley and Elon reliever Thomas Girdwood. In addition to Reyes and Girdwood, the Phoenix also placed catcher Mike Melillo and outfielder Justin Hilt on the first team.
Appalachian State’s David Towarnicky was selected as the first-team first baseman, joining teammate Wes Hobson who earned the first-team nod at second base. College of Charleston and The Citadel each had two first team selections as well with designated hitter Ryan Daniels joining Bergman for the Cougars and outfielder Nick Orvin teaming with Talley for the Bulldogs.
Other members of the first team were Furman third baseman Brian Harrison and Samford outfielder David Schulze.
Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.
2010 SoCon Baseball Preseason All-Conference Team
Player of the Year – Joey Bergman, Sr., SS/3B, College of Charleston
Pitcher of the Year – Jimmy Reyes, Jr., LHP, Elon
P Jimmy Reyes, Elon
P Matt Talley, The Citadel
RP Thomas Girdwood, Elon
C Mike Melillo, Elon
1B David Towarnicky, Appalachian State
2B Wes Hobson, Appalachian State
SS Joey Bergman, College of Charleston
3B Brian Harrison, Furman
OF Nick Orvin, The Citadel
OF David Schulze, Samford
OF Justin Hilt, Elon
DH Ryan Daniels, College of Charleston
P Asher Wojciechowski, The Citadel
P Matt Murray, Georgia Southern
RP Drew Mahaffey, The Citadel
C Ed Jayjack, UNC Greensboro
1B Danny Weiss, Davidson
2B Ross Heffley, Western Carolina
SS Neal Pritchard, Elon
3B A.J. Wirnsberger, Georgia Southern
OF Cole Rakar, College of Charleston
OF Wayne Miller, Samford
OF Harry Austin, Elon
DH Kyle Blackburn, Georgia Southern