College Preview

2012 Colonial Athletic Association Preview

Follow me on Twitter

*2011 automatic qualifier. 2011 NCAA regional participants in bold (2011 records listed; 2012 national rankings in parentheses)


Conf. Overall

*James Madison 21 9 42 19
UNC Wilmington 18 12 31 28
Old Dominion 19 11 30 26
Georgia State 17 13 37 21
Virginia Commonwealth 12 18 22 32
Delaware 16 14 27 26
George Mason 7 23 21 32
William & Mary 16 14 26 29
Towson 15 15 26 28
Hofstra 12 18 15 32
Northeastern 12 18 18 33
Projected NCAA Teams (1): James Madison.
Conference Schedule: 30 games; begins March 9.
Conference Tournament: Six teams, May 23-26 at James Madison.
Player of the Year: Andrew Cain, of, UNC Wilmington.
Pitcher of the Year: Sean Tierney, lhp, James Madison.
1. Blake Hauser, rhp, Va. Commonwealth
2. Brandon Kuter, rhp, George Mason
3. John Farrell, rhp, William & Mary
4. Andrew Cain, of, UNC Wilmington
5. Drew Leenhouts, lhp, Northeastern
6. Johnny Bladel, of, James Madison
7. Sean Tierney, lhp, James Madison
8. Tyler Molinaro, of, UNC Wilmington
9. Blaze Tart, rhp, UNC Wilmington
10. Matt Soren, rhp, Delaware
1. Tyler Molinaro, of, UNC Wilmington (Tr.—Pitt, N.C., JC)
2. Jordan Ramsey, rhp, UNC Wilmington (HS—Lexington, N.C.)
3. Chad Carroll, ss, James Madison (HS—Oakton, Va.)
4. Vimael Machin, ss, Va. Commonwealth (HS—San Lorenzo, P.R.)
5. Caden Bailey, ss, Georgia State (HS—Suwanee, Ga.)

• Old Dominion lost coach Jerry Meyers to South Carolina prior to the 2011 season and had Nate Goulet guide the Monarchs to a winning record as interim coach last season. The CAA coach of the year, Goulet was not retained as the full-time head coach; instead, the Monarchs hired Chris Finwood, who was hired by ODU's current athletic director, Dr. Wood Selig, at his previous stop, Western Kentucky. Finwood can build his first team around fifth-year Sr. SS Josh Wright (.369/.454/.682, 12 HR, 18 SB), whose incredible 2011 season wasn't enough to get him drafted. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Wright drew just 13 walks in his first two seasons while striking out 90 times, then improved his ratio to 26-36 last spring.

• James Madison won the regular-season title the last two seasons and broke back into regionals by winning the tournament last spring. The Dukes lost key pieces up the middle in C Jake Lowery and SS David Herbek but return five starters, led by league tournament MOP Johnny Bladel (.360/.478/.521, 26 SB). Versatile So. Ty McFarland (.278/.343/.382), the son of coach Spanky McFarland, moves to first base, and the lineup will focus on speed, from Sr. CF Ian Haynes (.284/.346/.379, 23 SB) to junior-college transfers 2B Casey Goss and OF Colby Roberts. Sr. LHP Sean Tierney (10-1, 3.43) moves into the Friday starter spot after last year's success.

• UNC Wilmington has the league's top lineup, starting with an offensive outfield. Sr. Andrew Cain (.302/.382/.530, 10 HR, 18 SB) is the league's top athlete, a plus runner at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, and his bat has started to catch up to his raw ability. An unsigned 12th-round pick in 2011, he's flanked by reigning CAA batting champion Sr. Thomas Pope (.396/.488/.554, 19 SB), and unsigned 15th-rounder Tyler Molinaro (Yankees), who slugged .819 at Pitt (N.C.) CC last spring. The pitching staff will miss Jr. RHP Blaze Tart (2-0, 3.24, 5 SV), who is out with Tommy John surgery and might be the team's top draft anyway. Western Carolina transfer Mat Batts and unproven Jr. RHP Tyler Deloach (6 IP in 2011) factor into the weekend rotation along with crafty veteran LHP Tyler McSwain (5-5, 4.97) and Fr. RHP Jordan Ramsey.

• Georgia State coach Greg Frady also manages Germany's national team program, and he's added German righthander Max Schmitz to the Panthers pitching staff. The 20-year-old pitched for his country's junior national team in 2009, then graduated to the World Cup squad in 2011, pitching eight innings with a 1.12 ERA—including three perfect innings against Australia, with a lineup full of professionals.