*2011 automatic qualifier. 2011 NCAA regional participants in bold (2011 records listed; 2012 national rankings in parentheses)
|HOW THEY’LL FINISH|
|College of Charleston||18||12||39||22|
|Projected NCAA Teams (2): Georgia Southern, Samford.|
|Conference Schedule: 30 games; begins March 2.|
|Conference Tournament: Eight teams, May 23-27 at Greenville, S.C.|
|Player of the Year: Victor Roache, of, Georgia Southern.|
|Pitcher of the Year: Chris Beck, rhp, Georgia Southern.|
|TOP PROSPECTS, 2012-2013|
|1. Chris Beck, rhp, Georgia Southern|
|2. Victor Roache, of, Georgia Southern|
|3. Lex Rutledge, lhp, Samford|
|4. Christian Powell, rhp, College of Charleston|
|5. Philip Ervin, of, Samford (2013)|
|6. Brandon Miller, c, Samford|
|7. Daniel Aldrich, of, College of Charleston|
|8. C.K. Irby, rhp/3b, Samford (2013)|
|9. Tyler Holstegge, rhp, UNC Greensboro|
|10. David Whitehead, rhp, Elon (2013)|
|1. Will Dorton, rhp, College of Charleston (HS—Lugoff, S.C.)|
|2. Chase Griffin, c/of, Georgia Southern (HS—Leesburg, Ga.)|
|3. Nick Rau, 3b, Georgia Southern (HS—Thomson, Ga.)|
|4. Jeremy Null, rhp, Western Carolina (HS—Claremont, N.C.)|
|5. Cole Limbaugh, rhp, Samford (HS—Childersburg, Ala.)|
|• The Southern Conference has an odd schedule in that every league team plays 10 series and has a 12-week window in which to play them. Some teams start March 2 with league play, but others start the next week, and every team takes a week off from conference play in April or May.
• Samford is poised for its best season after winning 37 games a year ago and losing only one regular. The lineup features dynamic So. OF Phillip Ervin (.371/.440/.516), who shined last summer in the Northwoods League, as well as Srs. 1B Saxon Butler (.355/.436/.588, 61 RBIs) and C/OF Brandon Miller (.270/.382/.582, 16 HR), the team’s top power plants. A pair of juniors returning from injury should start—SS Austin Allison missed last year with concussion issues, while OF Christian Durdaller returns from shoulder issues. Jr. LHP Lex Rutledge (5-6, 3.71) struggled with his control as a starter in 2011 and moves back to the closer role he owned as a freshman. Three seniors—Kyle Putkonen (7-2, 3.25), Charles Basford (7-4, 2.45) and Josh Martin (6-2, 2.76)—should hold down the rotation, though Fr. RHP Cole Limbaugh should push them as a midweek starter.
• Georgia Southern has star power in Jrs. RHP Chris Beck (9-5, 3.23, 103 IP/109 SO) and OF Victor Roache (.326/.438/.778, D-I best 30 HR). Beck performed heroically in the SoCon tournament as the Eagles won to get to regionals, but they need a strong supporting cast. The coaches say Sr. SS Eric Phillips (.390/.464/.518) is the best all-around player on the team, and they’ll count on him for consistency and leadership. Sr. RHP Josh Adams (9-6, 4.79) slots in as the No. 2 starter while So. Will Middour (3-1, 2 SV, 5.09 ERA) takes his changeup to the closer role, trying to replace Matt Murray, the SoCon pitcher of the year. A pair of freshmen with power potential are expected to start in C Chase Griffin and 3B Nick Rau.
• College of Charleston just missed on a regional bid last season and has finished with a .600 or better winning percentage for eight straight seasons. The Cougars usually hit for power and were able to do so last year despite the new BBCOR bats, led by redshirt So. Daniel Aldrich (.347/.399/.739, 22 HR, 73 RBI). Aldrich has an all-or-nothing approach to go with some of the best power in the draft class; he also has a solid leadoff man to knock in, as Sr. Marty Gantt (.329/.469/.506, 25 SB) returns. The pitching staff figures to be one of the league’s best with Sr. LHP Josh Renfro (9-3, 3.66) and Jr. RHP Christian Powell (8-1, 3.09, 82 IP/63 SO), who has touched the mid-90s with his fastball.