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Baseball Picked to Win Big South; McCully Named Preseason Pitcher of the Year

Baseball Picked to Win Big South; McCully Named Preseason Pitcher of the Year

Release courtesy of the Big South Conference

CHARLOTTE
, N.C. – Coasta lCarolina University’s baseball team has been voted the Big South Conference’s preseason favorite by the League’s Head Baseball Coaches, it was announced today by the Conference office. In addition, the coaches voted Radford senior infielder Alex Gregory (Great Falls, Va.) the Conference’s Preseason Player of the Year and Coastal Carolina junior Nick McCully (Lakeland, Fla.) the League’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year.   Coastal received seven first-place votes and 97 out of a possible 100 points to win the Big South in 2009. The Chanticleers are coming of the Big South’s and school’s first-ever Super Regional appearance last season, as well as their third 50-win season and No. 1 NCAA Regional seeding in four years. Coastal Carolina is led by 14-year head coach Gary Gilmore – the Big South’s second-winningest baseball coach with a record of 506-278 ( =.645 percent), and enters the 2009 season ranked No. 22 in the preseason National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll, as well as No. 24 (USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll), No. 25 (Ping! Baseball) and No. 28 (Collegiate Baseball). The Chanticleers return six starters and nine pitchers from last year’s Conference championship squad.   Coastal Carolina finished ahead of Libertyin the preseason poll, as the Flames – last year’s runner-up -- collected two first-place votes and 86 points.  Winthrop was picked third with one first-place vote and 78 points, while VMI finished fourth in the voting with 74 points. Radford received 53 points for fifth-place, while High Point placed sixth in the poll with 46 points. Big South newcomer Gardner-Webb garnered seventh-place (43 points), followed by UNC Asheville at No. 8 (38 points) and Charleston Southern at No. 9 (22 points). Big South newcomer Presbyterian, which is eligible for the League’s regular-season championship but not the Conference tournament, was finished 10th in the poll with 13 points.   Gregory batted .401 last year with 14 home runs, a school-record 83 hits, and 51 RBI to earn First-Team All-Conference honors. He is one of two players in Division I to hit better than .400 over the last two seasons (North Carolina’s Dustin Ackley is the other), and just the second player in Big South history to bat .400 twice. He led the Big South in batting average, was second in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and finished fourth in both home runs and total bases. Gregory batted .434 in Conference games a year ago (33-76), including nine home runs and an .855 slugging percentage. He also was named All-Tournament and was the League’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year in baseball. Gregory, who received five first-place votes and 13 total points in the voting, enters the 2009 season with a .367 career batting average.   Coastal Carolina infielder David Anderson was second to Gregory in the voting with three first-place votes and 12 points, followed by UNC Asheville’s Kevin Weidenbacher and VMI’s Tanner Biagini (two points each).   McCully led the Big South in wins last season, going 10-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 24 appearances and 89.1 innings for the Chanticleers. He struck out 72 batters compared to 27 walks in 2008, and held opponents to a .245 batting average. He also had three saves on the year. In Big South games, McCully posted a 5-1 record in six starts on the hill and a 1.88 earned run average. Last season he was named to the All-NCAA Conway Regional Team after earning the win over Columbia, was a Second-Team All-Big South selection, and struck out 10 batters in 9.2 innings in the Big South Tournament. McCully received six first-place votes and 14 points in the League’s preseason voting, finishing ahead of Liberty’s Dustin Umberger (nine points, two first-place votes).       The 2009 Big South baseball season begins Friday, February 20 with all 10 teams in action. The first Conference meeting is set for the weekend of March 6-8, while the Conference Championship Tournament is slated for May 19-23 and will be hosted by UNC Asheville at McCormick Field in Asheville, N.C.