FORT MYERS, Fla. - The 2010 college baseball season gets underway Friday and the Atlantic Sun preseason favorite FGCU battles Temple in a three-game set in the conference series of the week.
The Eagles are led by the conference preseason player of the year Zach Maxfield and preseason pitcher of the year Chris Sale. Sale, a southpaw, gets the 6:30 pm. Friday start at Swanson Stadium with a great deal of pressure on his shoulders. The junior ranks as one of the top pitchers in the country and earned preseason All-American honors from several new outlets and earned the conference preseason pitcher of the year honor in a unanimous vote.
The Eagles look to get a fast start to their season after starting 4-5 in 2009 and going on a tear to finish the season with a 36-18 record. A road upset of then-No. 9 Florida highlighted the Eagles 2009 non-conference schedule, however Temple did best FGCU a season ago, 5-3, on Feb. 22 in an 11 inning thriller.
The Owls, picked eighth in the Atlantic-10 preseason poll, return 11 pitchers to their 2010 staff, including All-Philadelphia Big 5 selection Ryan Thomas and redshirt-senior Matt Mongiardini. Thomas, who took on a starting role last season, posted a record of 4-3 in 10 starts, striking out 34 batters with a 5.03 ERA. Mongiardini, an All-Big 5 pick in 2008, returns to the top of the rotation after suffering a season ending injury last year.
Following the opening contest on Friday the Eagles and the Owls meet again on Saturday and Sunday with both games scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. first pitch.
Fans can follow the Atlantic Sun on Twitter and on Facebook. Visit twitter.com/AtlanticSun to begin receiving updates on conference news, weekly awards, and from A-Sun championships. Atlantic Sun followers with a Facebook account can become a "fan" of the conference by visiting facebook.com/AtlanticSunConference.
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.