Baseball to open season on Thursday

The Catawba College baseball team is set to open its season on Thursday in the opening game of the 2002 Dick Williams Good Guys Classic at Newman Park at 2 p.m. against Limestone. Coach Jim Gantt's Indians return five position starters and three of its top five pitchers for this season. The Tribe was picked fifth in the pre-season South Atlantic Conference Coaches Poll.The Indians finished up 2001 with a 31-22 record, going 10-10 in the SAC for a fourth place finish. Two of Catawba's top losses for a year ago were All-SAC performers O.J. Lennon and Brad Esarey. Both earned second team honors. Lennon, an outfielder, hit .372 with four home runs and 34 RBI, while Esarey, the ace of the pitching staff, compiled a 7-4 record with three saves and a 2.70 ERA. Other key losses come at first base in Travis Goins and at third base in Todd Smith. Heading the list of returners is shortstop Chad Hill and outfielder Israel Morrow. Both were first team All-SAC performers last year and were selected to the 2002 pre-season team. Another key returner was the 2001 SAC Freshman of the Year, Zach Snyder. Snyder, a right- handed pitcher is also a pre-season All-SAC selection for 2002. Hill hit a team-best .408 last season and in addition to his All-SAC honor was also selected to the first team All-South Region squad. He added nine home runs and 41 RBI. Morrow, who earned all-league honors as a designated hitter, hit .356 with seven homers and 42 RBI. The senior is 29 hits shy of the school's career hit record. Snyder was second on the team in wins last season, posting a 5-3 mark with a 3.66 ERA. Other top returners are Mike Robbins, an outstanding defensive catcher, who hit .261 with 20 RBI last season, second baseman Blair Reynolds (.349, 40 RBI), and outfielders Curt Motsinger (.281, 26 RBI) and Spence Southard (.305, 32 RBI). Brian Hatley (4-4, 4.28 ERA) and Chris Abernathy, who returned from an injury and posted a 4-5 mark with two saves, return to the mound. Top newcomers include pitching transfers sophomore Jake Talley, from Kutztown, and red-shirt freshman Thomas Giles, from UNC-Charlotte, who can also play the outfield. Four other top freshman are also pitchers in Matt Fairweather, Spencer Anthony, Jeff Abdelnour and Mark Smith, who may also see action at third base. After the Williams Classic, the Tribe will spent most of February on the road, not returning to Newman Park until a three-game series with Shippensburg on February 23 and 24. The Tribe will open SAC play at Carson-Newman the weekend of March 9 and 10. SAC COACHES POLL 1. Carson-Newman (3) ... 56 Lenoir-Rhyne (3) ............ 56 3. Wingate (1) ................ 51 4. Presbyterian (1) ......... 39 5. Catawba .................... 32 6. Tusculum ................... 25 7. Mars Hill .................... 18 8. Newberry .................. 11 2002 PRE-SEASON BASEBALL ALL-SAC TEAM FIRST TEAM Catcher - Alex Kellner, Newberry Pitcher - Richard Barkley, Presbyterian Pitcher - Louie Mitcham, Wingate Pitcher - Daniel Stewart, Mars Hill 1st base - Matt Warren, Presbyterian 2nd base - Craig Sizemore, Lenoir-Rhyne Shortstop - CHAD HILL, CATAWBA Shortstop - Jarred Caputo, Lenoir-Rhyne 3rd base - Jose Martinez, Tusculum Outfield - Aaron Shaffer, Carson-Newman Outfield - Chip Bradford, Lenoir-Rhyne Outfield - Chris Torres, Wingate Designated hitter - ISRAEL MORROW, CATAWBA SECOND TEAM Catcher - John Spencer, Wingate Pitcher - ZACH SNYDER, CATAWBA Pitcher - Robert Stover, Wingate Pitcher - Ryan West, Carson-Newman 1st base - Dean Walker, Newberry 2nd base - Stuart James, Wingate Shortstop - Nick Philemon, Mars Hill 3rd base - Andrew Romberger, Wingate Outfield - Logan Flynn. Mars Hill Outfield - Casey Taylor, Tusculum Outfield - Chris Turco, Presbyterian Designated hitter - Heath McCutcheon, Presbyterian #####

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