Big South Conference 2010 Preseason Baseball Poll

January 26, 2010

Coaches Tab Coastal Carolina As Favorite

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For the third consecutive year, Coastal Carolina University‘s baseball team has been voted the Big South Conference’s preseason favorite by the League’s Head Baseball Coaches, it was announced today by the Conference office.  In addition, the coaches voted Chanticleers’ junior outfielder Rico Noel (Lawton, Okla.) the Conference’s Preseason Player of the Year and Coastal Carolina junior Cody Wheeler (Spotsylvania, Va.) the League’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

Coastal received eight first-place votes and 97 out of a possible 100 points to win the Big South in 2010.  The Chanticleers are coming off their third consecutive Big South Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, and are led by 15-year head coach Gary Gilmore – the Big South’s second-winningest baseball coach with a record of 553-294 ( =.653 percent).  Coastal Carolina returns seven starters and 18 letterwinners from last year’s 47-16 team and enters the 2010 season ranked No. 16 in the Ping!Baseball preseason Top 30 rankings as well as No. 17 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Fabulous 40 preseason poll.

Coastal Carolina finished ahead of Liberty in the preseason poll, as the Flames collected one first-place vote and 88 points.  Winthrop – last year’s Tournament runner-up, was picked third with one first-place vote and 81 points, while Radford finished fourth in the voting with 68 points.  High Point received 59 points for fifth-place, while VMI placed sixth in the poll with 48 points.  Charleston Southern garnered seventh-place (40 points), followed by Gardner-Webb at No. 8 (36 points).  Presbyterian College, which is eligible for the League’s regular-season championship but not the Conference tournament, finished ninth in the poll with 18 points.  UNC Asheville rounded out the voting with 15 points for the 10th and final spot.

Noel enjoyed a breakout season as a sophomore in 2009, as he earned First-Team All-Big South honors after hitting .315 with 17 doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 45 RBI in 63 games.  He led the Big South with 48 stolen bases in 51 attempts, tying Tulane’s Josh Prince for first nationally in that category.  Noel had a .500 slugging percentage, a .427 on-base percentage and stole two-or-more bases 12 times a year ago.  He also had 19 multi-hit games and 11 multi-RBI performances.  Among his highlights last season included a 4-for-5 game with four RBIs in the win over West Virginia on Feb. 27, four stolen bases in the Charleston Southern win on May 15, a perfect 4-for-4 with four runs scored against Wake Forest on April 29, and a 2-for-3 day with three runs scored in the win over Kansas in the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional.  Noel also earned Big South All-Tournament Team honors last year and was named an All-Ping! Baseball Preseason All-American earlier this month.

Noel received four first-place votes and 11 points in the voting.  Winthrop catcher/designated hitter Eddie Rohan was second in the voting with one first-place vote and five points, followed by Charleston Southern’s Tyler Thornburg (two first-place votes, four points) and Liberty’s Curran Redal and Radford’s Jeff Kemp (three points each).

Wheeler was the Big South Pitcher of the Year in 2009 after posting a 10-1 record with a 3.83 earned run average in 15 starts for the Chanticleers.  A Second-Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, Wheeler had 98 strikeouts in 91.2 innings pitched, and led the Big South in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts while ranking sixth in ERA.  He threw a complete-game no-hitter in a 4-0 win at Hawai’i on March 26 – earning National Player of the Week honors by Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA.  Wheeler also gave up one hit in seven innings vs. VMI on May 10 and had 10 strikeouts in seven innings in defeating Radford on April 10.

Already named a preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball, the NCBWA and Ping!Baseball, Wheeler was a near unanimous choice for Big South Preseason Pitcher of the Year, as he received nine first-place votes and 19 out of a possible 20 points in the voting.  Liberty’s Shawn Teufel was second with five points, with Winthrop’s Tyler Mizenko finishing third with three points.

The 2010 Big South baseball season begins Friday, February 19 with all 10 teams in action.  The first Conference meeting is set for the weekend of March 19-21, while the 2010 Royal Purple Big South Baseball Championship tournament is slated for May 25-29 and will be hosted by Winthrop University at The Winthrop Ballpark in Rock Hill, S.C.

2010 Big South Conference Preseason Baseball Poll (total points)

Rk  Team (first-place votes)     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10    Points
1.   Coastal Carolina (8)……..80   9    8    –   –   –  –    –   –    –         97
2.   Liberty (1)………………….10 54  24    –   –   –  –    –   –    –         88
3.   Winthrop (1)………………10  18  32   21   –   –  –    –   –    –         81
4.   Radford……………………..–   9  16   28    6    5   4    –   –    –         68
5.   High Point…………………..–  –   –   14   36   5   4    –   –    –         59
6.   VMI…………………………..–  –   –     7    6  20  12    3   –    –         48
7.   Charleston Southern………–  –   –    –    6    5  20    9   –    –        40
8.   Gardner-Webb……………..–  –   –    –    6   10  –   18   2     –        36
9.   Presbyterian College……..–  –    –    –   –    5   –    –   8     5        18
10. UNC Asheville………………–  –    –    –   –    –  –    –  10    5         15

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

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