FGCUAthletics.com
FGCU Dominates Team and Individual A-Sun Preseason Honors
Wednesday, February 03, 2010

MACON, Ga. - The Atlantic Sun conference announced its baseball preseason coaches’ poll and all-conference honors Wednesday with FGCU earning the nod as the conference favorite.

“The team is honored to be recognized as the preseason favorite to win the A-Sun as voted on by the conference coaches,” said Head Coach Dave Tollett. “Taking a look back at conference history, the last two preseason favorites did not win the regular season conference title, so as a unit we understand it is not where you start but where you finish. The 2010 squad is focused and has its eyes set on winning the program’s third conference championship in a row.”

The Eagles also cleaned up in the superlative awards with first baseman Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) earning preseason Player of the Year honors and Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) picking up the Pitcher of the Year nod by a unanimous decision.

Sale earned Pitcher of the Year honors in a unanimous vote befitting the status of the Ping!Baseball and Louisville Slugger preseason All-American. The College Baseball Blog listed Sale as the fourth-best player in the nation and as the top left-handed starting pitcher in nation. Sale earned first-team all-conference honors a season ago after posting a 7-4 record with a 2.72 ERA. The criminal justice major earned the Pitcher of the Year honor during the summer in the talent-rich Cape Cod league. Baseball America named Sale the Top Prospect in the Cape Cod league after the lefthander earned MVP honors in the league’s All-Star game.

Maxfield burst on to the A-Sun scene a season ago, leading the conference in home runs with 20 while driving in a team-high 66 runs for the Eagles. The power-hitting first baseman also picked up preseason all-conference honors after earning first-team all conference honors a season ago at the designated hitter position. The Northport, Fla. native ranked as one of only four underclassmen on the 2009 all-conference squad joining his teammates Chris Sale, Tim Roberson and ETSU’s Paul Hoilman.

Tim Roberson joins his fellow FGCU juniors on the preseason all-conference team holding the third base position. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native ranked second in the A-Sun in 2009 in home runs just one behind Maxfield. Roberson ranked fifth in the league in RBI a season ago with 18 multiple RBI games including eight contests in which he drove in three or more runs.

Robert Greene (Cape Coral, Fla.) rounds out the quartet of Eagles on the preseason all-conference team. Greene played in all 54 games a season ago for FGCU and the junior spent 53 of those contest behind the plate for the team picked atop of the preseason coaches’ poll. Greene hit 14 home runs and combined with Roberson and Maxfield total the trio hit more round trippers than three A-Sun teams in 2009.

FGCU earned the nod from coaches as the conference favorite grabbing 10 of a possible 11 first-place votes. The coaches also tabbed the Eagles as the favorite to win the postseason tournament. FGCU placed No. 25 in Ping!Baseball’s Preseason rankings and received votes in the first National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Poll and USA Today/ESPN Poll.

The coaches picked Jacksonville, the reigning conference champion, second in the preseason poll and the Dolphins also earned solid representation on the preseason All-Atlantic Sun team. Matt Loosen earned a unanimous selection after a season in which he boasted a 4-1 record with two saves and 4.16 ERA. Loosen ranked nationally in strikeouts (59th, 91) and strikeouts per nine innings (43rd, 10.24).

Chris Kaminski joins Loosen on the preseason all-conference squad as a relief pitcher. The junior posted a team-best 2.70 ERA a season ago with a record of 5-1 with eight saves and recorded 33 strikeouts in 34 innings. Chuck Opachich rounds out the Jacksonville selections as he picked up the spot at second base. The senior hit .377 a season ago with 42 RBI and 19 stolen bases.

Stetson took third in the preseason coaches’ poll and placed designated hitter Aaron Crittenden on the preseason team. The senior returns to the Hatters following a banner season in which he drove in 66 runs. Crittenden belted 13 home runs and amassed a .554 slugging percentage.

Kennesaw State enters the preseason poll fourth, followed by UNF in fifth. Both the Owls and Ospreys completed their transition to Division I after last season and for the first time, can compete for spots in the Atlantic Sun Championships, and thus a chance at earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Mercer and Lipscomb tied for sixth. The coaches picked Belmont eighth, ETSU ninth, Campbell 10th and USC Upstate 11th.

Lipscomb Josh Smith rounds out the pitching rotation on the preseason squad. Smith ranked second on the Bisons in ERA behind departed first-round draft pick Rex Brothers. The senior ranked nationally in strikeouts (32nd, 101) and in hits allowed per nine innings (29th, 7.1) in 2009. Smith posted a 3.86 ERA a season ago allowing only 38 earned runs in over 88 innings.

Tyler Stubblefield from Kennesaw State completes the infield filling in the shortstop position. The senior posted a .300 batting average a season ago to for the Owls. Stubblefield smacked seven home runs and drove in 27 runs.

Belmont’s Dylan Craig picked up preseason honors from the coaches after a freshman campaign which saw him rank second in the nation in triples. Craig earned A-Sun Freshman of the Year honors a season ago and Ping!Baseball named him to their Freshman All-American team. The Signal Mountain, Tenn. native also finished nationally ranked in hits (36th, 92), batting average (82nd, .397) and sacrifice flies (14th, eight)

UNF’s Preston Hale, a unanimous selection, joins Craig in the outfield after posting a .371 average to lead the Ospreys a season ago. The senior started all 53 games in 2009 driving in 43 runs, hitting 10 home runs while slugging .593. Hale picked up second-team all-conference honors at the end of last season after leading his team in multiple-hit games and tying for the team lead in multiple-RBI games.

Josh Whitaker from Kennesaw State completes the outfield after appearing in 22 games and making 15 starts for the Owls a season ago. Whitaker hit .379 with four home runs and 25 RBI.

The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun stands for achievement with integrity in both the academic and athletic arenas, with a focus on the balance between the two for our student-athletes. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.

 

2010 A-Sun Preseason Coaches Poll

 

#

School (1st Place Vote)

Points

1.

FGCU (10)

120

2.

Jacksonville

106

3.

Stetson

82

4.

Kennesaw State

81

5.

UNF

69

T-6.

Mercer (1)

62

T-6.

Lipscomb

62

8.

Belmont

53

9.

ETSU

45

10

Campbell

34

11.

USC Upstate

12

 

 

Tournament Winner - FGCU

 

 

2010 Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference

 

Pos.

Player (Yr.)

School

SP

Matt Loosen (Jr.)

Jacksonville

SP

Chris Sale (Jr.)

FGCU

SP

Josh Smith (Sr.)

Lipscomb

RP

Chris Kaminski (Jr.)

Jacksonville

C

Robert Green (Jr.)

FGCU

1B

Zach Maxfield (Jr.)

FGCU

2B

Chuck Opachich (Sr.)

JU

3B

Tim Roberson (Jr.)

FGCU

SS

Tyler Stubblefield (Sr.)

Kennesaw State

DH

Aaron Crittenden (Sr.)

Stetson

OF

Dylan Craig (So.)

Belmont

OF

Preston Hale (Sr.)

UNF

OF

Josh Whitaker (Jr.)

Kennesaw State

 

Player of the Year: Zach Maxfield, FGCU

 

 

Pitcher of the Year: *Chris Sale, FGCU

 

 

* - Unanimous Selection