Thursday, February 14, 2013
MACON, Ga. - The opening week of play for Atlantic Sun baseball teams features several marquee games as five games are scheduled against four 2012 NCAA Tournament participants.
FGCU and Mercer both face St. John’s, while USC Upstate hosts No. 8 Kentucky this weekend. Jacksonville and North Florida have respective midweek games schedule against No. 19 Florida State and Bethune-Cookman. Kennesaw State also travels to No. 29 Georgia on Wednesday.
A-Sun Baseball Weekly Notes (#ASunBSB):
- Last season, USC Upstate posted a win improvement of 14 games, which tied for the 12-best all-time in the A-Sun. The Spartans finished 33-20 after a 19-36 in the 2011 season.
- Mercer and FGCU tied atop the A-Sun Preseason Coaches Poll with 81 points each. The Bears have qualified for the last seven A-Sun Championships, while FGCU nearly advanced to the A-Sun title game last year - falling in the second-to-last game of the tournament.
- As a whole, the A-Sun finished as the 10th-best conference in the nation last season according to the NCAA Conference RPI and WarrenNolan.com. The A-Sun was ranked 11th by Boyd’s World. Five conference squads finished in RPI Top-100, while seven appeared in the top-125.
- FGCU’s Ricky Knapp was tabbed the 2013 A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year after being tabbed the top pitcher for the 2012 season. Knapp tied for the conference lead in wins (9) and was second in innings pitched (111.1) and second among starting pitchers in ERA (2.34).
- The Spartans’ Gaither Bumgardner returns to defend his 2012 A-Sun Player of the Year title. As a junior last season, Bumgardner batted .376 (2nd in A-Sun) and posted the fifth-best on-base percentage (.439).
- Mercer’s David Teasley is active leader for several pitching categories among conference hurlers. The senior leads all active players in wins (19), appearances (115) and strikeouts (155).
- ETSU owns some of the top returning career hitters in the league with Kerry Doane and Andrew Green as both rank 1st or 2nd in several categories. Doane is tops in at-bats (660), runs batted in (102), while Green is best for hits (205). Doane ranks second for hits (196) and doubles (41); Green is second for at-bat (652) and runs scored (112).
- Mercer returns the top-three career home run hitters with Travis Benn (1st; 21), Nick Backlund (T2nd; 16) and Derrick Workman (T2nd; 16). Three other Bears rank in the top-10 for homers among active players.
- Stetson’s Pete Dunn own the most wins among A-Sun coaches with 1,202, but as a whole the league coaches combine for 5,694 wins and an overall winning percentage of .605. JU’s Terry Alexander, who owns 714 career wins will retire at seasons end after 34 years with JU and 23 season as the head coach.
- Seven of the ten A-Sun programs are at home this weekend to open the season with the exception of Northern Kentucky (at Lamar) as well as Mercer and FGCU partaking in the Snow Bird Classic in Florida.
- Lipscomb opens the season on a 12-game home stand, while ETSU and USC Upstate have seven-straight home dates to begin the year. On the flipside, Northern Kentucky hits the road for its first nine games, while FGCU is away from Swanson Stadium for its first seven contests.
- The owners of the top-four batting averages from 2012 return this season with Mercer’s Nick Backlund (.381; 1st) and Chesny Young (.367; 3rd) as well as Upstate’s Gaither Bumgardner (.376; 2nd) and ETSU’s Clinton Freeman (.365; 4th).
- For the second-straight season, Stetson hosts the Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship. The Hatters have served as the championship site for the 10 of the last 12 title games. This season, two more teams will be invited to the tournament as eight teams will trek to DeLand, Fla. for the conference championship.
- Until last season, an Atlantic Sun team had won at least one game in the NCAA Regionals dating back to the 1998 season.
- Last season, eight former A-Sun baseball student-athletes appeared on MLB rosters; Chris Sale (White Sox; FGCU), Daniel Murphy (Mets; Jacksonville), Chris Johnson (Diamondbacks/Astros; Stetson), Rex Brothers (Rockies; Lipscomb), Cory Gearrin (Braves; Mercer), Chad Jenkins (Blue Jays; Kennesaw State), Corey Kluber (Indians; Stetson) and Casey Coleman (Cubs; FGCU).
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