College Preview

2006 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Preview




HOW THEY'LL FINISH



Conference Overall


W
L
W
L
1. +North Carolina A&T
12
6
27
27
2. Bethune-Cookman
11
6
22
28
3. Florida A&M
9
9
19
33
4. Delaware State
10
7
19
27
5. Coppin State
10
7
21
31
6. Norfolk State
8
9
14
36
7. Maryland-Eastern Shore
1
17
6
41
(2005 records listed; 2006 national ranking in parentheses)
+ 2005 conference tournament champion; NCAA regional participants in boldface

Projected NCAA Teams (1): North Carolina A&T.
Conference Schedule: 18 games. Schedule begins March 18.
Conference Tournament: Seven teams, May 18-21 in Norfolk, Va. (Norfolk State).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
* 2005 conference leader

C--Neil Rosser, So., North Carolina A&T (.257-1-15). 1B--Rob Caruso, Sr., Bethune-Cookman (.325-3-28). 2B--Corey McFadden, So., Florida A&M (.333-1-17). 3B--Charlie Gamble, Jr., North Carolina A&T (.337-*13-*48). SS--Jose Almonte, Sr., Bethune-Cookman (.291-0-17). OF--Jeremy Jones, Jr., North Carolina A&T (*.402-4-46); Craig Munch, Sr., Maryland-Eastern Shore (.347-4-34); Jon Ricketts, Jr., Delaware State (.368-1-22). DH--Brandon Gravely, Jr., Delaware State (.335-5-39). P--Michael Hauff, Sr., North Carolina A&T (*8-5, 2.92, 108 IP/*132 SO); J.P. Primus, So., North Carolina A&T (7-3, 3.25); Michael Tavernier, So., Florida A&M (6-6, 3.87).

Player of the Year: Jeremy Jones, North Carolina A&T.

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006-07 DRAFTS

1. Jeremy Jones, of, North Carolina A&T.

SHORT HOPS

• North Carolina A&T broke Bethune-Cookman's run of six straight MEAC titles in 2005 and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. A&T led Clemson 2-1 after six innings in the tournament before falling 12-2. The Aggies set a school record with 27 wins and earned the first back-to-back 20-win seasons in program history. Junior OF Jeremy Jones (.402-4-46) set the school record with 82 hits and led the MEAC in that category as well as average, doubles (20) and runs (53). He ranked second in RBIs as he earned the MEAC player of the year award. Senior RHP Michael Hauff (8-5, 2.92) returns for his senior season after leading the league with eight wins and 132 strikeouts. He and sophomore RHP J.P. Primus (7-3, 3.25) form the league's top pitching duo after earning both first-team starting pitcher slots on the all-MEAC team. Jones, Primus (who’s also a shortstop) and 6-foot-6 slugging junior 3B Charlie Gamble (.337-13-48) teamed up to lead Kernersville to the Southern Collegiate Baseball League title over the summer.

• Coppin State set a school record with 21 wins in 2005. The Eagles also ranked 21st in the nation by averaging 1.96 steals per game. Junior Amiel Traynum led the team with 29 steals in 44 games despite batting .245-0-21. Traynum will split time between catcher and the outfield this season following the departure of all-conference C Brian Vickers (.341-3-41).

• Bethune-Cookman alum Mark Woodyard (1999-2000) became the school's second major leaguer when the righthander debuted with the Detroit Tigers in September. Former Wildcats outfielder Sebastien Boucher (2002-04) represented Canada at baseball’s World Cup in the Netherlands last September.

• Perennial doormat Maryland-Eastern Shore doubled its wins total by going from 3-44 in 2004 to 6-41 in 2005, despite losing its last 16 games. The Fighting Hawks are 22-244 in the last six years. They haven't reached double-figures in wins since an 11-41 season in 1998. Coach Bobby Rodriguez enters his fourth season at UMES with guarded optimism and with some good news off the field. He was inducted into the National Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame and named the all-decade coach for the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds.

• The MEAC has moved back its conference tournament after historically producing the first automatic NCAA bid with an event that finished near May 1. The new tournament dates (May 18-21) means the league champion won't have to scramble to find games in the three weeks between the end of the conference season and the start of the NCAA tournament.

• No MEAC players were drafted in 2005, though several signed free-agent contracts. That group included Bethune-Cookman infielder Carlos Picornell (.315-2-17), who lead the league with 41 steals as a junior before signing with the Braves. His 0.82 steals per game ranked sixth in the country.