Thomasville, NC> Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Baseball Coaches voted for their preseason polls and preseason All-CVAC Team members as nominations and votes were collected over the past month. Non-conference games can officially begin as the first pitch of the season will be thrown out after February 1.
Defending Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference champion Mount Olive posted a 37-15 record in 2004, marking the eighth time in the last nine years the Trojans have won either the CVAC regular season or tournament championship and placing them on top of this years CVAC coaches’ preseason poll. Mount Olive was ranked in the top four in the South Atlantic Region throughout the year and appeared to be headed towards the NCAA DII regional, but the Trojans got bumped out of the top four a week after winning the CVAC Tournament and did not receive a bid. Mount Olive returns a pair of left-handed starting pitchers, including All-CVAC First Team selection Brian Corbett, who posted a 5-1 record with a 4.12 earned run average in 2004. The senior was a two-time CVAC Pitcher of the Week winner. Also returning is junior Weston Curles, who ranked No. 30 in the nation with a 2.36 ERA. Curles posted a complete game victory in last year’s CVAC Tournament and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Senior Jonathan Pullen and sophomore Stephen Nordan both hit over .300 last year, while junior first baseman Matt Rickard provided late season offensive punch for the Trojans. Defensively, the Trojans will have to find replacements for two outfield positions, the middle infield and behind the plate.
Pfeiffer University was chosen in the 2nd slot for the coaches’ preseason poll. The Falcons are coming off a successful 2004 campaign in which they won the regular season championship. After finishing second in the CVAC conference tournament, the Falcons had a ranking of #2 in the South Atlantic Region. Pfeiffer finished the year with a 41-14 record and a #15 national ranking. First year Head Coach Mark Hayes will look for hot hitting from returning starters Jamie Tucker (.386, 15 HR, 61 RBI) and Brian York (.398, 18 HR, 70 RBI) who were 2004 First Team All-Conference and All-Region selections. The Falcons will also return six pitchers that saw action last year. They will be led by Greg Tucker (8-4), who was a 2004 2nd Team All- CVAC member, and Spencer Anthony (6-0).
The Barton College Bulldogs return seven position starters and their entire pitching staff from a 27-26 team that finished fourth in the CVAC regular season in 2004 to place them in the third position in the preseason poll. Head Coach Todd Wilkinson begins his 13th season at the helm for the Bulldogs with a lineup that features a bevy of great hitters, led by All-American Dennis Blackmon, who belted a school-record 24 home runs last season and set numerous other school single-season and career records. If the veteran pitchers can blend with the newcomers to provide leadership on the mound, and the defense plays solid, Barton could make a run for the 2005 conference title. "We have a veteran, powerful offense," Wilkinson said. "We return 54 of our 73 home runs from last season, as well as our top seven hitters. Our defense was improved in 2004 and our pitching staff is now battle-tested, so we should be even better in 2005."
Rounding out the baseball preseason poll 4-9 is: Erskine, Coker, St. Andrews, Anderson, Limestone, and Belmont Abbey respectively.