Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mount Olive Ranked No. 7 In Collegiate Baseball Division II Preseason Top 40

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Mount Olive earned a preseason top 10 ranking for the third time in the last four years, coming in at No. 7 in the 2011 Collegiate Baseball Division II Preseason Top 40, as voted on by members of the American Baseball Coaches Association. The Trojans have been nationally ranked in the preseason poll in each of the last six years, including a No. 1 preseason ranking in 2009 after winning the 2008 NCAA Division II Baseball National Championship.

Mount Olive posted a record of 41-11 last year and won the Conference Carolinas regular season title with an 18-6 mark. The Trojans also captured the 2010 Conference Carolinas Tournament title. Mount Olive advanced to the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship for the fourth time in the last five years, finishing fourth at the Southeast Regional.

The Trojans return six position starters and two All-Conference Carolinas pitchers from last year’s squad. Designated hitter Mike Knox earned All-America honors after breaking school single-season records with 24 home runs and 94 runs batted in last year. Knox, who batted .378, became the first player in Trojan history to hit three home runs in a game twice during the same season.

Outfielder Joseph Westbrook, who belted a three-run homer in a second-round victory in the 2008 NCAA II Baseball National Finals, batted .443 last season and scored the tying run in the bottom of the ninth in the Trojans’ 2-1 win over Erskine at last year’s regional. Second baseman Ryan Faison drove in the game-winner in that game and batted .381 for the season. Shortstop Dan Hayduk batted .387 with six home runs before suffering a season-ending injury. Third baseman Daniel Coffey batted .333 and had a 6-for-6 game against Limestone last year. Catcher Tyler Smith batted .350 last season, including a 5-for-5 game against Shippensburg and a 4-for-4 performance against St. Andrews.

Carter Capps was named to the 2010 Daktronics All-Southeast Region first team after becoming only the second pitcher in Trojan history to go undefeated with at least 10 wins. Capps was 10-0 last year with a 3.06 earned run average and a better than 5-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, fanning 63 batters in 79 1/3 innings while walking only 12. Capps recorded six complete games, including two shutouts. He threw only 77 pitches in his nine-inning complete game win over Erskine at the Southeast Regional.

Curtis Hudson earned All-Conference Carolinas second team honors last year, posting a 6-2 record with two complete games and one shutout. A two-time Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week during the 2010 season, Hudson recorded 52 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings pitched. He posted conference wins in his first two conference starts and also three six scoreless innings in a shutout win over national top 10 Francis Marion.

Mount Olive received 532 points in the poll, placing 18 points behind No. 6 Abilene Christian (Texas) and 16 points ahead of No. 8 Florida Southern. The Trojans finished second among eight Southeast Region teams ranked in the poll. No. 4 Georgia College and State is the highest-ranked in-region team. Defending national champion Southern Indiana took the top spot in the preseason poll, followed by last year’s national runner-up UC San Diego.

The Trojans’ 2011 schedule includes games against six teams ranked in the top 40, as well as two teams that received votes in the poll. Mount Olive will face No. 5 Tampa (Fla.), No. 9 Kutztown (Pa.), No. 15 Francis Marion, No. 23 Catawba, No. 24 California (Pa.) and No. 28 Erskine, along with vote-getters Wingate and Carson-Newman (Tenn).

For the first time since winning the 2008 national championship, Mount Olive will face off against other former national champions. The Trojans take on 2006 and 2007 national champion Tampa and 2009 national champion Lynn (Fla.). Both games and a contest against Carson-Newman will take place during the Lander University Tournament February 11-13 at Greenwood, S.C.

Mount Olive opens its 2011 schedule on the road with a three-game non-conference series February 5-6. The Trojans will be away from home for their first seven contests before playing host to Shaw February 16 at Scarborough Field. The Trojans open Conference Carolinas play with a three-game series at home against St. Andrews. The 2011 Conference Carolinas Tournament is scheduled for April 14-16 at Wilson, N.C.

For the third year in a row, Mount Olive and Town of Cary will co-host the NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals. The 2011 Championship takes place May 28-June 4 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The NCAA has awarded the National Finals to Mount Olive and Town of Cary through 2013.

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