Western Carolina Preseason Baseball Favorite
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 02/06/2014
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Western Carolina's Jeremy Null
Courtesy: Western Carolina Athletics
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – 2013 regular-season Southern Conference champion Western Carolina has been picked to defend its crown in 2014 in balloting of the league’s media and 10 head coaches.

The Catamounts, who went 39-20 overall and 23-7 in the league last season, picked up seven first-place votes and 78 points from the coaches, who could not vote for their own teams. WCU edged The Citadel, which earned 75 points and the remaining three first-place votes in the coaches’ poll. Western Carolina earned 167 points and 13 first-place votes from the media.

Western Carolina returns seven position starters and two starting pitchers from last season’s squad, including Preseason SoCon Player of the Year Aaron Attaway and Preseason Pitcher of the Year Jeremy Null. The Catamounts had five players earn preseason all-conference honors in voting by the league’s coaches, with starting pitcher Jordan Smith, catcher Adam Martin and first baseman Jacob Hoyle joining Attaway and Null on the first team. The Catamounts ran away with the league crown last season, finishing 4 1/2 games ahead of Elon and College of Charleston to claim their first regular-season title since 2007.

The Citadel, which returns all but SoCon Championship Most Outstanding Player Joe Jackson from its everyday lineup a year ago, reached the title game of the tournament in 2013. The Bulldogs, who also lost 2013 SoCon Pitcher of the Year Austin Pritcher, were picked second this season in the preseason coaches and media polls, picking up two first-place votes and 149 total points in the media poll.

The coaches tabbed Appalachian State to finish third (60 points), while Elon, last season’s SoCon tournament winner, was the fourth pick with 59 points. Georgia Southern was fifth with 48 points, followed by Furman (38), Samford (35), UNCG (30), Wofford (15) and Davidson (12).

In the media poll, Georgia Southern picked up two first-place votes and finished third with 131 points, while Elon was again edged by just one point, finishing in fourth with 130 points and one first-place vote.

Appalachian State was fifth with 119 points, followed by Samford (97), Furman (77), UNCG (60), Davidson (31) and Wofford (29).

The 2014 season opens for all 10 league teams on Friday, Feb. 14. This season’s SoCon Baseball Championship will take place at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park in Charleston, S.C., from May 20-25 and will include all 10 teams.

2014 Preseason Southern Conference Coaches Poll
Place    Team (1st-place votes)    Points
1.    Western Carolina (7)    78
2.    The Citadel (3)    75
3.    Appalachian State    60
4.    Elon    59
5.    Georgia Southern    48
6.    Furman    38
7.    Samford    35
8.    UNCG    30
9.    Wofford    15
10.    Davidson    12

2014 Preseason Southern Conference Media Poll
Place    Team (1st-place votes)    Points
1.    Western Carolina (13)    167
2.    The Citadel (2)    149
3.    Georgia Southern (2)    131
4.    Elon (1)    130
5.    Appalachian State    119
6.    Samford    97
7.    Furman    77
8.    UNCG    60
9.    Davidson    31
10.    Wofford    29
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