The Charleston Southern Buccaneers have been picked to finish third in the Big South's South Division, in a vote of the League's Head Coaches, the League announced today.
CSU received 42 points in the poll. Defending Big South Champion Coastal Carolina was a unanimous selection to win the South Division as it received all 12 first-place votes and 72 points. Gardner-Webb placed second with 48 points. In fourth was Winthrop with 36 points and in the No. 5 slot was UNC Asheville with 28 points. Presbyterian College closed out the voting for the South Division with 26 points.
CSU will try to improve on a seventh-place finish in the Big South from a season ago. The Bucs went 11-13 in Big South play in 2012, finishing two games out of fourth.
CSU, under fifth-year head coach Stuart Lake, returns its leading hitter and pitcher from last season.
Sophomore Chase Shelton, an All-Big South and Freshman All-American selection a year ago will lead the Bucs' offense after batting .344 with 13 doubles in freshman campaign. Junior Zach Hagaman is the Bucs' top returning pitcher. He was 4-0 a season ago and led CSU with a 2.36 ERA. He'll be relied upon to help improve a 4-12 record in one-run games from a season ago.
The Bucs open the season Feb. 15 with a three-game series against Eastern Kentucky.
Liberty's and Coastal Carolina's baseball programs have been chosen as the favorites in the Big South Conference's annual preseason poll for the 2013 season
With a record 12 members in 2013, the Big South will have divisional play in men's baseball for the first time in Conference history. Liberty is the preseason favorite to win the North Division with Coastal Carolina earning the plaudit for the South Division.
The Flames received seven top votes and 67 points to take the top spot, followed by Campbell who notched one top bid and 55 points. High Point's four No. 1 votes and 53 points rounded out the top three in the North Division. Radford found itself at the No. 4 spot with 39 points, while VMI finished fifth with 22 points. New Big South member Longwood rounded out the list for the North Division with 16 Points.
The Big South baseball season begins on Friday, Feb. 15 with 11 teams in action. The 2013 Big South Baseball Championship is slated for Tuesday, May 21-15 at the Liberty Baseball stadium in Lynchburg, Va.
In addition, the coaches voted Campbell's Michael Felton and Jeff Kemp of Radford the Conference's Preseason Co-Players of the Year, while Aaron Burke of Coastal Carolina was named the Big South Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Felton, a senior from Tempe Ariz., was tabbed a NCBWA and ABCA All-American after finishing the 2012 season ranked No. 4 in the country with a .424 average at the plate and a Big South single-season record 103 hits. A preseason NCBWA Preseason First-Team All-American, Felton ranked No. 2 in the Big South with a .474 on-base percentage a season ago. The second baseman also chipped in 45 RBI, 12 doubles, three triples and one long ball for the Fighting Camels. In the field, Felton posted 138 assists and 110 putouts for a fielding percentage of .965. Felton notched six top bids and 13 points in the voting.
Kemp, a redshirt senior from Bowie, Md., finished the 2012 campaign ranked No. 1 in the Big South Conference with six triples, en route to being named First-Team All-Big South. His 48 RBI was good for No. 4 in the League, while he closed out last season ranked No. 6 with a .536 slugging percentage and 16 doubles. Radford's defensive anchor in the middle infield, his .956 fielding percentage helped the Highlanders establish a Big South record with a .978 team fielding percentage of .978. He posted 153 assists and 84 putouts from his spot at shortstop. Kemp collected four first-place votes and 13 points in the voting.
Burke, a senior right-handed pitcher from Shawnee, Kan., was named the 2012 Big South Co-Pitcher of the Year and Collegiate Baseball Second-Team All-American after finishing the season ranked No. 5 in the nation with a 1.58 ERA. A 2013 Preseason second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, his 10 wins during the 2012 campaign was good for No. 22 in Division I. He ranked No. 5 in the Conference with a seven saves and was tops in the League with 35 appearances. He notched 40 strikeouts and was a 2012 First-Team All-Big South selection. Burke was a near unanimous selection for the preseason honor as he notched 11 top votes and 23 points from the panel. Ryan Mattes of Campbell (one first-place vote) and VMI's John Garrett tied for second in the voting with three points each.
2013 BIG SOUTH PRESEASON BASEBALL POLLS – FIRST ADD
2013 Baseball Preseason Poll
Rk North Division (first-place votes) 1 2 3 4 5 6 Points
1. Liberty (7) 42 25 -- -- -- -- 67
2. Campbell (6) 6 30 16 3 -- -- 55
3. High Point (4) 24 5 16 6 2 -- 53
4. Radford -- -- 16 21 2 -- 39
5. VMI -- -- -- 3 16 3 22
6. Longwood -- -- -- 3 4 9 16
Rk South Division (first-place votes) 1 2 3 4 5 6 Points
1. Coastal Carolina (12) 72 -- -- -- -- -- 72
2. Gardner-Webb -- 20 20 6 2 -- 48
3. Charleston Southern -- 10 20 9 2 1 42
4. Winthrop -- 15 4 6 10 1 36
5. UNC Asheville -- 10 -- 9 4 5 28
6. Presbyterian College -- 5 4 6 6 5