High Point, N.C.- Mount Olive College has been voted the Conference Carolinas preseason poll favorite entering the 2010 season. The Trojans have also been ranked No. 30 in the Collegiate Baseball Division II Preseason Poll. The Trojans are the highest ranked of the four Conference Carolinas teams listed in the poll.
Mount Olive won the NCAA II Baseball National Championship in 2008 and also claimed its third consecutive conference title that year. The Trojans hope to return to NCAA Tournament play and start a new streak of conference championships. Mount Olive posted a 33-18 record last year and finished second in the regular season conference standings with a 12-6 mark. The Trojans failed to reach the championship game of the conference tournament for the first time since 2005.
The Trojans are led by preseason All-America and two-time All-Conference outfielder Jesse Lancaster, who batted .358 with 56 runs scored last year. Over the last two seasons, Lancaster has 12 home runs and 50 stolen bases in his last 54 attempts. Lancaster was named to the All-Tournament Team at the 2008 NCAA II National Finals. Also expected to provide offensive punch are first baseman Airlon Vinson (.355), outfielder Jackson Massey (.351), second baseman Dylan Holton (.320) and outfielder/designated hitter Joseph Westbrook (.320).
On the mound, Ryan Williams posted a 2-2 record last season with a 2.13 earned run average in 12 appearances, all but one in relief. Craig Beasley posted a 2-1 mark in 13 appearances and Brent Haynes earned Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week honors last year.
Mount Olive’s schedule may work to the team’s advantage: 31 of the Trojans’ first 39 games are at home.
Erskine College was voted second in the preseason poll. Erskine is coming off a 2009 season that saw the Fleet finish 36-18 and a second place finish in the conference tournament. Erskine lost just five seniors and returns six starters on offense and seven pitchers.
The offense returns the middle of their lineup that combined for 71 of the school record 105 home runs last year. The Fleet will be led at the plate by All American outfielder Bryan Fogle who hit .410 with 20 home runs and 73 RBI while also being named Conference Carolinas Player of the Year. Joining Fogle will be senior second baseman Chas Anthony, who was named All Region and All Conference after hitting .378 with 23 doubles, 15 home runs with 56 RBI. Joining Fogle and Anthony will be senior outfielder Greg Huff, who hit .391 with 25 doubles, 17 home runs, and 46 RBI while being named All Conference and All Region.
The Fleet pitching staff returns second team All Conference selections William Buzhardt and Atlee Pearson. Buzhardt finished 2009 with five wins and two saves while posting a 3.33 ERA, while Pearson was 6-3 with seven saves in 24 appearances. Erskine will also return senior Russell Reid who was 6-1 with one save in 25 appearances and junior Carlton Watts who was 2-2 in 17 appearances.
The Belmont Abbey College Crusaders place third in the coaches' preseason poll. The 2010 Abbey enters the season ranked No. 29 in the Ping!Baseball NCAA Division II Preseason Poll. The Crusaders hope to take the momentum of last year's most successful season in program history into the upcoming year and build on it. The Abbey finished last year playing in the DII College World Series Final Four and came just one game shy of playing for the national title. It finished the year ranked third in the nation, its highest ranking ever.
Last season the Abbey became the first lowest seeded team to win an NCAA Division II Regional as it raced through the region with an undefeated 4-0 record. The Crusaders advanced to the regional by capturing the Conference Carolinas tournament. The Crusader finished with a 40-26 overall and 14-5 league record.
Rounding out the baseball preseason poll 4-9 is: Pfeiffer, Barton, Anderson and Limestone (tied), Coker, and St. Andrews respectively.