WCUs Hoyle, UNCGs Clark Headline Preseason All-SoCon Teams
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 02/05/2015
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UNCG's Ryan Clark
Courtesy: UNCG

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Two-time defending Southern Conference regular-season baseball champion and 2015 preseason pick Western Carolina saw three infielders named to the Preseason All-Southern Conference first team, including Preseason Player of the Year Jacob Hoyle. UNCG right-hander Ryan Clark was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year in voting conducted by the league’s nine head coaches, who also chose two all-conference teams and could not vote for their own players.

Samford, which reached the SoCon Championship title game for the third time in four seasons in 2014, placed a league-best five players on the two preseason squads, including a SoCon-high four on the first team. UNCG followed with four total selections, tying Western Carolina with three first-team picks, while Furman and Mercer each had a first-team pick. The Citadel, Furman, Mercer, VMI and Wofford had two second-team selections each, while ETSU, UNCG and Samford had one each.

All nine SoCon teams were represented on the preseason teams.

Western Carolina’s Hoyle, a two-time All-SoCon selection and a Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American this year, shared the SoCon lead with 14 home runs last season. The senior first baseman from Hickory, N.C., started all 55 games last year as the Catamounts won their second straight regular-season title, hitting .332 with 53 RBIs and a .570 slugging percentage. He hit a team-best .379 in league play.

Hoyle was joined on the preseason first team by fellow preseason All-American Bradley Strong (second base) and Danny Bermudez (catcher).

UNCG’s Clark was 3-6 with a 3.68 ERA last season, striking out 68 batters against 22 walks in 93 innings of work. His .244 batting average against in 2014 was the sixth-best mark in the league. He also ranked in the top 10 in the SoCon in ERA, innings pitched and batters struck out looking (25). Clark was a SoCon All-Freshman selection in 2013.

Joining Clark on the preseason first team were Spartan outfielders Eric Kalbfleisch and Zac MacAneney. Second baseman Hunter King was a second-team pick.

Samford reliever Andres Gracia, shortstop Frankie Navarrete, outfielder Heath Quinn and designated hitter Jared Watson earned first-team honors, while starting pitcher Alex Ledford, who led the league with 11 wins last season, was a second-team pick. Quinn was the SoCon Freshman of the Year last season.

Mercer starting pitcher Eric Nyquist turned in eight wins and a 3.12 ERA to earn first-team All-Atlantic Sun honors last season, and took a spot on the preseason SoCon first team this year. Furman third baseman Chris Ohmstede, a second-team All-SoCon pick last year, earned the remaining preseason first-team nod.

The Citadel put reliever Skylar Hunter and shortstop Johnathan Stokes on the second team, while ETSU third baseman Chris Cook represented the Bucs. Furman had a pair of second-teamers in Jake Jones (outfield) and Jarrod Rickman (designated hitter), as did Mercer with catcher Charlie Madden and first baseman Howard Joe. VMI was represented on the second team by starting pitcher Andrew Woods and outfielder Brandon Angus, and Wofford rounded out the team with starting pitcher Matthew Milburn and outfielder James Plaisted.

The second team featured three starting pitchers because of a tie in the voting.

The 2015 season opens for all nine league teams on Friday, Feb. 13, with each team but VMI playing at home. This season’s SoCon Baseball Championship will take place at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park in Charleston, S.C., from May 19-24 and will include all nine teams.

2015 Preseason All-Southern Conference

Preseason Player of the Year
Jacob Hoyle, Sr., 1B, Western Carolina

Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Ryan Clark, Jr., RHP, UNCG

First Team
SP    Eric Nyquist, Mercer
SP    Ryan Clark, UNCG
RP    Andres Gracia, Samford
C    Danny Bermudez, Western Carolina
1B    Jacob Hoyle, Western Carolina
2B    Bradley Strong, Western Carolina
SS    Frankie Navarrete, Samford
3B    Chris Ohmstede, Furman
OF    Eric Kalbfleisch, UNCG
OF    Zac MacAneney, UNCG
OF    Heath Quinn, Samford
DH    Jared Watson, Samford

Second Team
SP    Alex Ledford, Samford
SP    Andrew Woods, VMI
SP    Matthew Milburn, Wofford
RP    Skylar Hunter, The Citadel
C    Charlie Madden, Mercer
1B    Howard Joe, Mercer
2B    Hunter King, UNCG
SS    Johnathan Stokes, The Citadel
3B    Chris Cook, ETSU
OF    Jake Jones, Furman
OF    Brandon Angus, VMI
OF    James Plaisted, Wofford
DH    Jarrod Rickman, Furman
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