• Now up to 12 teams, the Big South split into two divisions with a 24-game league schedule, with five division series and three against teams in the other division.
• **Editor's Note: Ryan Cordell was inadvertently left off the Top Prospects list in the print edition and when this story was first posted. BA regrets the error.
• You want consistent? Try Coastal Carolina, with six straight Big South regular-season and tournament championships, winning records every year since 1998 and 40-plus win seasons (including four with 50 or more) in 11 of the last 12. The Chanticleers return several key pieces, starting with speedy Jr. CF Jacob May (.306/.391/.407, 27 SB) and 5-foot-8 Sr. DH Alex Buccilli (.313/.426/.417), who owned a 35-15 BB-SO ratio last season while showing off the college game's most unusual batting stance.
The Remillard brothers, So. C Will (transfer from Temple) and Fr. 3B Zach, should contribute some needed pop. The pitching staff is in excellent shape, with Jr. RHP Tyler Herb (9-2, 2.61) leading the way as a steady Friday starter and a dynamite bullpen featuring a pair of submarine Sr. RHPs. Aaron Burke (10-5, 1.58, 7 SV) ranked fifth in the country in ERA and logged 80 innings in relief, while Ryan Connolly (5-2, 2.10, 11 SV) added 77 innings. Connolly then threw 51 more effective frames in the Cape Cod League.
• Campbell has put more resources into its baseball program, with the most tangible evidence being the construction of Jim Perry Field, named for the alumnus, brother of Gaylord Perry and 215-game winner. The Camels set a school record in coach Greg Goff's fifth season, winning 41 games and narrowly missing their first regional trip since 1990. It's a senior-heavy roster, with two keys in 2B Michael Felton and RHP Ryan Mattes. Felton (.424/.474/.510), already 23, has to try to maintain last year's high level of play. The 6-foot-7 Mattes (4-3, 3.74, 10 SV) moves into a new role after making 67 of his 69 career appearances out of the bullpen. The sleeper could be redshirt Jr. Matt Nadolski, a 2009 draft pick (Orioles, 32nd round) who spent two seasons at San Diego State (one as a redshirt), then went to Santa Rosa (Calif.) JC. He's a 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefthander who's slated as the everyday right fielder, but he touched 92 mph and struck out five in two innings in the Alaska League all-star showcase last year.
• Gardner-Webb enters its 10th Division I season with high expectations, having lost only one contributing pitcher and returning veterans such as Sr. C John Harris (.302/.397/.443, 4 HRs) and So. SS Ryan Hodge (.315/.318/.399), who led the team with 16 steals as a freshman. Jr. RHP Andrew Barnett (4-4, 4.15) and So. LHP Beau Hilton (7-3, 3.14) are part of the experience back on the mound. With the graduation of home runs leader Dusty Quattlebaum, the Bulldogs will look for power from Elon transfer Sam Fulginiti, whose brothers Kurt (Gardner-Webb) and Max (High Point) already have played baseball in the Big South.
• The conference lineup is unchanged except for the addition of Longwood, which fits the league's geographic footprint nicely being located within three-hour drives of the Big South's other Virginia schools. Lancers coach Charles "Buddy" Bolding, who has 910 wins since taking over the program in 1979, will retire after this season. The baseball program became a full-time Division I school in 2008.