By Sam Armstrong
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — The Capital Athletic Conference today released the 2018 Preseason Coaches' Poll, with Southern Virginia picked to finish tenth in the conference.
"We are very deep from top to bottom this year and we are excited for this team's potential," said head baseball coach Logan Mann. "Our players will have to compete every day for an opportunity to get in the lineup, and that will make us all better as the season progresses."
The Knights return 14 players from a squad that went 12-28 overall in 2017 and are hoping that experience takes them to the next level this year. Key offensive returners include first baseman Cole Critchfield, whose .390 batting average was fourth-highest in the CAC last year, and infielder Riley Daniels, who was fifth in the conference a year ago with eight home runs. Other returning starters include catcher Jordan Keefer (6 HR), shortstop Ryan Morin (.313 BA), and outfielder Ryan Saunders (.338 BA).
Southern Virginia also comes into the year with depth in the rotation, returning over 80% of last year's pitching, with newcomers wanting to get their turn on the hill as well. Seniors Seth Burris, Tayler Peterson, and Jonathan Hodges will look to shut down opposing offenses this year with help from Daniels, Tanner Black, and Michael Stirling.
Leading the voting with 78 points and six first-place votes is defending conference champion, Salisbury, while Christopher Newport was picked second with four first-place votes.
The Knights kick off the season today as they take on William Peace, and they begin CAC play on March 21 with a matchup against Mary Washington.
2018 CAC Baseball Preseason Poll
1. Salisbury (6 first-place votes) - 78 points
2. Christopher Newport (4 first-place votes) - 75 points
3. Marymount - 62 points
4. Frostburg State - 54 points
5. Mary Washington - 46 points
6T. Wesley - 40 points
6T. York - 40 points
8. Penn State Harrisburg - 27 points
9. St. Mary's - 18 points
10. Southern Virginia - 10 points