Thomasville, NC- Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Baseball Coaches voted Limestone College as their preseason poll favorite for the 2006 season. Limestone College surprised everyone last season by winning the CVAC regular season title after being picked to finish eighth in the 2004 preseason coaches poll.
The CVAC title is just the second in Limestone history in any sport. The Saints shocked the conference with outstanding wins over defending CVAC Champions, Pfeiffer University, and top 10 teams like Kennesaw State, USC Upstate, and Francis Marion. Head Coach Chico Lombardo was the 2005 CVAC Coach of the Year, leading the team to a record of 17-6 in CVAC & 31-24-1 overall. Additionally, catcher David Wise, left fielder Matt Reel, and pitcher Kevin Pucetas were named to the All-Tournament Team as the Saints finished runner-up in the CVAC Tournament Championship. Pitchers Jason Gold and Kevin Pucetas, along with second baseman Matt Craig and catcher David Wise also earned All-Conference honors. Limestone brings back their strong core of veterans to help defend its regular season title
Mount Olive College was chosen in the 2nd slot for the coaches’ preseason poll. Mount Olive, which won the 2004 CVAC championship, looks to bounce back from its first sub-.500 season in more than a decade. The Trojans return four All-CVAC players, three of whom earned preseason All-Region honors in the fall. Senior right-hand pitcher Justin Staatz, who threw the Trojans’ first-ever no-hitter in CVAC play last season, joins junior right-hander Philip Pennington to lead the pitching staff. On the offensive side the Trojans look to Juniors Josh Carter as designated hitter and Stephen Nordan at second base, as they both ranked in the top 10 in the CVAC in hitting in 2005.
The Erskine College Flying Fleet return five offensive players and their entire pitching staff from a team that set a school record in wins and finished second in the CVAC last season with a 38-17 overall & 14-7 CVAC record to earn them third place in the preseason poll. Erskine comes into the 2006 season with their first preseason national ranking at #30, and will be led at the plate by first team All-CVAC shortstop Shelton Cisson, third basemen Robbie Knapp, and second basemen JJ Newman. On the mound, The Fleet returns all three of their top starters from a staff that was near the top of the conference in pitching with senior Jon Merrell and sophomores Russell Reid and Michael Moore. Erskine also returns its bullpen, with Michael Maus setting things up for closer Jake Williams. “We are a young team on offense, but have experienced players at key positions,” commented Coach Kevin Nichols. “Our depth and experience on the mound will help us out greatly in 2006.”
Rounding out the baseball preseason poll 4-9 is: Barton, Pfeiffer, Coker, St. Andrews, Belmont Abbey, and Anderson respectively.
Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Pre-Season Coaches Poll
(First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Limestone College (5) 11
2. Mount Olive College (3) 16
3. Erskine College 24
4. Barton College (1) 34
5. Pfeiffer University 41
6. Coker College 42
7. St. Andrews Presbyterian College 46
8. Belmont Abbey College 51
9. Anderson University 59