ROCK HILL, S.C. - Brevard College sophomore Matthew Pruitt was selected as a preseason All-South Atlantic Conference third baseman after a stellar 2009 campaign in which he hit a team-high .315 to go with 14 doubles. The sophomore from Hendersonville, N.C. added 41 hits and 25 RBIs, and crossed the plate 27 times, while staying among the team leaders in fielding percentage in receiving this recognition.
Tusculum College, which has won the South Atlantic Conference baseball championship in four of the past five years, is the preseason favorite to capture another crown in a poll of the league’s head coaches, the league announced.
The Pioneers received five first-place votes and 73 total points in the SAC preseason baseball poll. The preseason All-Conference team was also announced, with the Pioneers placing a league-best six on the team, including five on the first team.
The Pioneers baseball team is listed No. 17 in the country according to the 2010 Collegiate Baseball Magazine NCAA Division II Preseason Poll.
Tusculum head coach Doug Jones, who is entering 13th season at the helm of the Pioneer program, returns 20 lettermen, including six starters from last year’s 36-18 club that won its fourth SAC Championship and advanced to the NCAA II Tournament for a fifth time in seven years.
Six Pioneers players were selected on the preseason All-Conference team. Pitcher Taylor Rakes, who went 5-1 with a 3.38 ERA, and relief pitcher Michael Franklin, who had a 2-0 record with three saves, join catcher Sean Cotton on the first team. Cotton had 44 RBIs last season. Also on the first team is a pair of outfielders in Jared Richmond and Nate Grabowski. Grabowski was second in the league in on-base percentage last year and fifth in batting average. Richmond had 11 home runs and led the SAC with six triples. Tusculum second baseman Payden Houser was named to the second team.
Catawba College is picked to finish second. The Indians, who won the 2009 Food Lion SAC Tournament, received three first place votes and 70 total points. Four Indians players made the preseason All-Conference team. Pitcher Trevor Mullins and third baseman Craige Lyerly were both first team, Mullins who posted a 3.76 ERA last season and Lyerly, the returning SAC Player of the Year, had a .444 batting average with 106 hits and 70 runs scored. Pitcher Nathan Furr and outfielder Josh Hohn were both named preseason second team All-Conference.
Lenoir-Rhyne University was picked to finish third; the Bears received 53 total points. Four Bears were named to the preseason All-Conference team. Second baseman Hank Wofford, who stole 15 bases last season; outfielder Evan Taylor; and designated hitter Rob Knight, who batted .452 with 48 runs last season, were all named to the preseason first team. Catcher Brian Dice was named preseason second team All-Conference.
Wingate University was picked to finish fourth; the Bulldogs received 52 total points. Four Bulldogs were placed on the preseason All-Conference team. Relief pitcher Lee Oxendine; pitcher Tyler Almond, who had a 3.28 ERA last season; outfielder Nick Siega-Riz; and designated hitter Heath Weatherford, who hit 9 homeruns and 18 doubles last season, were all selected to the preseason second team All-Conference.
Newberrry College was picked to finish in fifth place in the South Atlantic Conference and received 46 total points after going 21-25 last season. Newberry pitcher Josh McElwee, who led the league with 91 strikeouts last season, was picked as a preseason first team All-Conference.
Carson-Newman College was picked to finish sixth; the Eagles received 44 total points. Three Eagles were named to the preseason All-Conference team. First baseman Derek Long was named first team. Shortstop Mills Roger and outfielder Evan Patterson, who lead the SAC in stolen bases last season with 24, were both named second team All-Conference.
Mars Hill College was picked to finish seventh and received 34 total points. Three Lions were selected for the preseason All-Conference team. Shortstop Devin Presnell, who batted .391 with 72 hits and 50 last season, was selected to the preseason first team. Pitcher Justin Hall, who posted a 3.79 ERA and a 6-2 record last season, and first baseman Brandon Savoca, were both named preseason second team.
Lincoln Memorial University was picked to finish eight in the South Atlantic Conference and received 24 total points. The Railsplitters had two players named to the preseason All-Conference team. Second baseman Nick Langley and third baseman John Couch, who recorded 17 doubles in 48 games last season, were both named second team All-Conference team.
Brevard College was picked to finish ninth after a 10-32 season last year. The Tornados received 9 total points. The Tornados third baseman Matthew Pruitt, who recorded 14 doubles in 34 games last season, was selected to the preseason second team All-Conference team.
The 2010 baseball season begins Monday with Lenoir-Rhyne opening on the road at Pfeiffer. Five more games are on tap Tuesday, with Lenoir-Rhyne, Newberry and Wingate all playing their home opener.
The 2010 Food Lion SAC Baseball Tournament will be April 22-25 at McNair Field in Forest City, N.C. The tournament winner will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
2010 SAC BASEBALL COACHES POLL
Pl School 1st Pts.
1. Tusculum (5) 73
2. Catawba (3) 70
3. Lenoir-Rhyne 53
4. Wingate 52
5. Newberry 46
6. Carson-Newman (1) 44
7. Mars Hill 34
8. Lincoln Memorial 24
9. Brevard 9
2010 Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference Baseball Teams
Catcher – Sean Cotton, Tusculum
Relief Pitcher – Michael Franklin, Tusculum
Pitcher – Josh McElwee, Newberry
Pitcher - Taylor Rakes, Tusculum
Pitcher – Trevor Mullins, Catawba
1st Base – Derek Long, Carson-Newman
2nd Base – Hank Wofford, Lenoir-Rhyne
Shortstop- Devin Presnell, Mars Hill
3rd Base – Craige Lyerly, Catawba
Outfield – Jared Richmond, Tusculum
Outfield – Nate Grabowski, Tusculum
Outfield – Evan Taylor, Lenoir-Rhyne
Designated Hitter – Rob Knight, Lenoir-Rhyne
Catcher – Brian Dice, Lenoir-Rhyne
Relief Pitcher – Lee Oxendine, Wingate
Pitcher – Tyler Almond, Wingate
Pitcher – Nathan Furr, Catawba
Pitcher –Justin Hall, Mars Hill
1st Base – Brandon Savoca, Mars Hill
2nd Base – Nick Langley, Lincoln Memorial
2nd Base – Payden Houser, Tusculum
Shortstop- Mills Roger, Carson-Newman
3rd Base – Matthew Pruitt, Brevard
3rd Base – John Couch, Lincoln Memorial
Outfield – Josh Hohn, Catawba
Outfield – Evan Patterson, Carson-Newman
Outfield – Nick Siega-Riz, Wingate
Designated Hitter – Heath Weatherford, Wingate