BA breaks down the Big South Conference, including our projections for regional teams, player of the year, pitcher of the year and top prospects.
|BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE
Baseball Members (First Year): Campbell (2012), Charleston Southern (1983), Coastal Carolina (1983), Gardner-Webb (2009), High Point (1999), Liberty (1991), Longwood (2013), UNC Asheville (1985), Presbyterian (2009), Radford (1983), Winthrop (1983).
Checking Out: None.
|Team to Beat: Liberty. An already experienced Liberty team received a huge lift with the return of senior captains Ashton Perritt and Alex Close. Righthander Perritt (1-2, 1.52) moves from a closing role to Friday starter while also starting in center field (.279/.370/.388 with 18 stolen bases). First baseman Close (.323/.370/.512 with nine home runs) provides pop in the lineup and could also see some work on the mound with a fastball that has touched 91 mph. Head coach Jim Toman expects breakout years from sophomores third baseman Dylan Allen (.258/.395/.331) and first baseman Andrew Yacyk (.241/267/.405) in a lineup that could include up to five seniors. Senior lefthander Shawn Clowers (9-0, 0.83) and sophomore righthander Parker Bean (7-3, 2.95, Big South freshman of the year) round out a formidable weekend rotation behind Perritt.|
|Player of the Year: Alex Close, c/1b/rhp, Liberty. Taken in the 27th round by the Royals, Close returns for his senior season and is coming off a strong summer in the Coastal Plain League (.299/.397/.469 with seven doubles and six home runs). Close was second in the Big South in home runs (nine) and RBIs (48) and fifth in slugging percentage (.512) last season.|
|Pitcher of the Year: Ashton Perritt, rhp/of, Liberty. Perritt touched 95 mph as a closer, where he ranks second all-time in school history with 22 saves. Drafted in the 17th round by the Braves as a pitcher, Perritt has made strides with his changeup, which should help him make the adjustment to the weekend rotation.|
|Freshman of the Year: Dalton Ewing, of, Coastal Carolina. The lean, athletic outfielder from Senior Milton (Ga.) High, showcased above-average speed and an average-to-above-average arm at the National High School Invitational in March. The toolsy Ewing is expected to start for the Chanticleers in right field.|
|Tournament: Eight teams, double-elimination. May 19-23 at Gardner-Webb.|
|TOP 10 PROSPECTS, 2015 DRAFT|
|1. Kyri Washington, of||Longwood|
|2. Dylan Nelson, rhp||Radford|
|3. Ashton Perritt, rhp/of||Liberty|
|4. Alex Close, c/1b/rhp||Liberty|
|5. Casey Schroeder, c||Coastal Carolina|
|6. Michael Boyle, lhp||Radford|
|7. Matt Fraudin, rhp||Gardner-Webb|
|8. Hunter Bryant, 3b||UNC Asheville|
|9. Conor Lourey, rhp||High Point|
|10. Nick Paxton, of||Liberty|