Baseball Tabbed As Pre-Season SAC Favorite

10_BB_SAC Tourn

ROCK HILL, SC -- Catawba, which won the 2010 Food Lion Tournament title, is the favorite to win the 2011 South Atlantic Conference baseball championship in a vote of the league's head coaches, the conference announced on Tuesday.  Catawba received six first-place votes and 94 total points.  The Catawba Indians went 40-13 last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row and are ranked 23rd in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll. 

The Indians placed six on the preseason All-Conference team, including returning SAC Pitcher of the Year Nathan Furr.  Furr went 6-0 last season with a 4.06 ERA and will bolster the staff when he returns from off-season surgery.  Joining Furr on the preseason All-Conference first team from Catawba is relief pitcher Wil Huneycutt, who posted four saves with a 2.31 ERA.

Three more Indians were named to the second team: Pitcher Nick Lomascolo, who led the SAC with a 3.45 ERA last season; designated hitter Garrett Furr, the 2010 SAC Freshman of the Year; and outfielder Ryan Bostian, the 2010 SAC Tournament MVP.  Lomascolo was an all-region pick and went 7-3 in his freshman campaign.  Furr hit .377 with 11 home runs, wile Bostian batted .337 with 43 RBI.

Catawba opens the season on the road at Barton on February 1 at 2 p.m..  The Indians play the weekend of February 4-6 at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium in Kannapolis, NC.  Catawba plays four games over the weekend, including a double-header on Friday against Pfeiffer and Tusculum.  The Tribe’s first scheduled game at Newberry Park is February 9 vs. Pfeiffer at 3 p.m.

Wingate, the 2010 regular-season champions, was picked to finish second.  The Bulldogs placed four on the preseason All-Conference team.  Brian Yeung at first base, shortstop Chris Vazquez and outfielder Dodson McPherson were named to the first team, while pitcher Chris Nelson was named to the second team.  Vazquez hit .382 and was among the conference leaders in total hits and doubles last season.

Carson-Newman is picked to finish third.  Pitcher Austin Bridgewater, who went 5-1 with a 4.32 ERA last season, was a preseason All-Conference first team selection.  Tusculum was tabbed fourth in the poll.  The Pioneers placed three on the preseason All-Conference team.  Catcher Sean Cotton, who was second in the conference with 69 RBIs last season, is joined on the first team by pitcher Tyler Collins and second baseman Payden Houser, who hit .404 last season.

Mars Hill is predicted to finish fifth.  Lion outfielder Rusty Smith was named to the preseason All-Conference first team, while catcher Adam Lewis and relief pitcher Tony Hearrell were both named to the second team.  Smith hit .352 with 57 RBI, Lewis hit .398 with 55 RBI last season, while Hearrell was 4-1 with six saves.

Lincoln Memorial was picked for sixth place.  The Railsplitters placed three on the preseason All-Conference team with third baseman John Couch and outfielder Cody Pack on the first team, while outfielder Cody Baker was named to the second team.  Pack was among the conference leaders in home runs and RBIs last season, while Baker was among the leaders with a .407 batting average.

Lenoir-Rhyne is seventh in the poll.  The Bears return preseason All-Conference first-team designated hitter Brian Dice, who was second in the SAC with a .435 batting average last season while hitting 16 home runs and driving in 59 runs.  Shortstop Dalton Hall and outfielder Stephen Andrews were named to the second team.

Anderson, the league’s newest member was picked for eighth place.  The Trojans placed two on the preseason All-Conference second team in first baseman Erick Sanderson and second baseman Ryan Saxon.  Newberry is ninth, placing two on the preseason All-Conference second team. Pitcher Josh McElwee, who led the league in strikeouts in 2008 and 2009, is joined by third baseman Chris Love.  Brevard rounds out the poll. 

The 2011 Food Lion SAC Baseball Tournament will be April 20-23 at McNair Field in Forest City, NC. The top six teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the conference tournament.  The winner earns an automatic spot in the NCAA II Southeast Region Tournament.

1. CATAWBA (6), 94
2. Wingate (4), 86
3. Carson-Newman, 78
4. Tusculum, 73
5. Mars Hill, 59
6. Lincoln Memorial, 54
7. Lenoir-Rhyne, 39
8. Anderson, 29
9. Newberry, 27
10. Brevard, 11


C - Sean Cotten - Tusculum
P - Nathan Furr - CATAWBA
P - Austin Bridgewater - Carson-Newman
P - Tyler Collins - Tusculum
RP - Wil Huneycutt - CATAWBA
1B - Brian Yeung - Wingate
2B - Payden Houser - Tusculum
SS - Chris Vazquez - Wingate
3B - John Couch - Lincoln Memorial
OF - Cody Pack - Lincoln Memorial
OF - Rusty Smith - Mars Hill
OF - Dodson McPherson-Wingate
DH - Brian Dice – Lenoir-Rhyne

C - Adam Lewis - Mars Hill
P - Nick Lomascolo - CATAWBA
P - Josh McElwee - Newberry
P - Chris Nelson - Wingate
RP - Tony Hearrell, Mars Hill
1B - Erick Sanderson - Anderson
2B - Ryan Saxon - Anderson
SS - Dalton Hall - Lenoir-Rhyne
3B - Chris Love - Newberry
OF - Cody Baker - Lincoln Memorial
OF - Stephen Andrews - Lenoir-Rhyne
OF - Ryan Bostian - CATAWBA
DH - Garrett Furr - CATAWBA

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