College Preview

2013 Southern Conference Preview

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  Conference Overall
Team W L W L
College of Charleston 21 9 38 22
Elon 20 10 33 26
*Samford 19 11 41 23
Western Carolina 16 14 32 24
Georgia Southern 15 15 33 27
Appalachian State 21 9 41 18
The Citadel 13 17 25 33
Furman 13 17 28 31
UNC Greensboro 10 20 25 27
Wofford 9 21 22 32
Davidson 8 22 17 31
*2012 conference champion
Teams listed in bold are 2012 NCAA tournament participants. Teams are listed in order of predicted finish. Records listed are from the 2012 season
Projected NCAA Teams (2): College of Charleston, Elon.
Conference Schedule: 30 games, begins March 1.
Conference Tournament: Eight teams, May 22-26 at Greenville, S.C.
Player of the Year: Phillip Ervin, of, Samford.
Pitcher of the Year: David Whitehead, rhp, Elon.
1. Phillip Ervin, of, Samford
2. David Whitehead, rhp, Elon
3. C.K. Irby, rhp/3b, Samford
4. Chase Griffin, c, Georgia Southern (2014)
5. Alex Swim, c, Elon
6. Eric Eck, rhp, Wofford
7. Julian Ridings, of, Western Carolina
8. Joe Jackson, c, The Citadel
9. Rob Marcello, lhp, Appalachian State
10. Tyler Wood, rhp, Furman
1. Cole Watson, ss, Georgia Southern (HS—Marietta, Ga.)
2. Luke Leftwich, rhp, Wofford (HS—Phoenix)
3. Alex Milazzo, rhp, Samford (Tr.—Shelton, Ala., State JC)
4. Seth Neely, 1b, Wofford (Tr.—Spartanburg, S.C., Methodist JC)
5. Patrick McGavin, lhp, Samford (Tr.—Northwest Fla. State JC)


Samford broke through in 2012, finishing fourth in a crowded, strong SoCon but winning the league tournament to earn its first regional bid and finishing in second place in the Tallahassee regional. The Bulldogs lost a lot of talent, from Division I home run champ Brandon Miller to the entire weekend rotation, including school career wins leader Josh Martin. The lineup lost much of its power in Miller and 1B Saxon Butler (combined 38 homers), but most teams would like to start a lineup with preseason first-team All-American OF Philip Ervin (.327/.406/.519, 10 HR, 16 SB), who's coming off a strong summer in the Cape Cod League. He'll need help from holdovers such as Sr. OF Christian Durdaller (.265/.361/.458, 5 HR) and newcomers such as 1B Caleb Bryson, who hit 19 homers the last two seasons at Middle Georgia JC. RHP/DH C.K. Irby provides more punch with five homers last season and will move from closer to Friday starter. The new closer should be Sr. RHP Arthur Strauss, who hits 94 mph at times with late sink but has struggled with control, with 37 walks in 40 career innings.

Appalachian State won a series at Louisiana State, set a school record with 41 wins and tied for the league regular-season title, earning an at-large regional bid and finishing second in the Charlottesville regional. Duke snapped up coach Chris Pollard, and former Oklahoma State assistant Billy Jones was hired for his first D-I head coaching gig. Jones inherits a team that lost closer Nathan Hyatt and two-thirds of the rotation, all of whom were drafted. The Mountaineers' strength will be an experienced lineup with a steady, veteran infield featuring 23-year-old Sr. SS Will Callaway (.320/.380/.444, 23 SB), who spent some time in the Cape Cod League last summer. Sr. OF Tyler Zupcic (.338/.435/.486, 12 SB), who missed fall practice with a knee injury sustained in last year's regional, is expected back healthy. He's the son of ex-big leaguer Bob Zupcic.

College of Charleston lost three single-digit draft picks, including the league's player (Marty Gantt) and pitcher (Christian Powell) of the year, as well as OF Daniel Aldrich, who signed as a nondrafted free agent with the Yankees after a strong summer in the Cape. The Cougars will lean on seniors on the pitching staff such as pitchability RHP Matt Pegler (10-2, 2.83, 89 IP/66 SO), and athleticism and defense in the lineup, where the infield looks particularly strong on the left side. Sr. 3B Bradley Goodson (.276/.331/.467) must be more selective to improve his offensive production after posting a 13-55 BB-SO ratio last season, and So. SS Gunnar Heidt (.243/.309/.346) has similar concerns (17-45 BB-SO), but both players are athletic, above-average college defenders.

Elon missed regionals the last two years, but the Phoenix has been a model of consistency under coach Mike Kennedy, with winning seasons of 30 or more victories every year as a D-I member (starting in 2000). Kennedy builds this year's club around Sr. C Alex Swim (.357/.398/.448), a fine defender and contact-oriented hitter who has ranked 12th in D-I in being toughest to strike out each of the last two seasons. He'll help a veteran pitching staff that returns its top four starters, including hard-throwing sinkerballer Jr. RHP David Whitehead (5-3, 4.44), who was a Cape League all-star.

UNC Greensboro hired Link Jarrett, a former Florida State player and assistant most recently at Auburn, to replace longtime head coach Mike Gaski, who was let go.