ROCK HILL, S.C. - Newberry College third baseman Chris Love and starting pitcher Josh McElwee have been named to the 2011 preseason all-South Atlantic Conference second team, it was announced by the league office today. The preseason coaches' poll was also released, with the Wolves picked to finish ninth in the league in their first season under head coach Russell Triplett.
Love, a senior from Columbia, S.C., hit .348 last season and led Newberry with 40 RBIs. He totaled 62 hits and 34 runs scored with 10 doubles, two triples and seven homeruns. He also drew 15 walks for a .395 on-base percentage. He committed only four errors in 184 chances in the field for a .978 fielding percentage at the corner infield spots.
McElwee, a senior from Andrews, S.C., returns to the rotation after pitching in only two games last season. He earns preseason all-SAC honors for the third consecutive season after first team preseason honors in 2010 and second team preseason laurels in 2009. The 2008 SAC Freshman of the Year, McElwee led the league in strikeouts in 2008 with 104 Ks and in 2009 with 91 Ks.
Catawba College, which won the 2010 Food Lion Tournament title, is the favorite to win the 2011 South Atlantic Conference baseball championship.
Catawba received six first-place votes and 94 total points. The Indians went 40-13 last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row. The Indians placed six on the preseason All-Conference team, including returning SAC Pitcher of the Year Nathan Furr. Furr went 6-0 last season with a 4.06 ERA.
Joining Furr on the preseason All-Conference first team from Catawba is relief pitcher Wil Huneycutt. Three more Indians were named to the second team: Pitcher Nick Lomascolo, who led the SAC with a 3.45 ERA last season; designated hitter Garrett Furr, the 2010 SAC Freshman of the Year; and outfielder Ryan Bostian.
Wingate University, the 2010 regular-season champions, is picked to finish second. The Bulldogs, under first-year coach Jeff Gregory, received four first-place votes and 86 total points.
Wingate placed four on the preseason All-Conference team. Brian Yeung at first base, shortstop Chris Vazquez and outfielder Dodson McPherson were named to the first team, while pitcher Chris Nelson was named to the second team. Vazquez hit .382 and was among the conference leaders in total hits and doubles last season.
Carson-Newman College is picked to finish third with 78 points. Pitcher Austin Bridgewater, who went 5-1 with a 4.32 ERA last season, was a preseason All-Conference first team selection.
Tusculum College received 73 points to finish in fourth place in the poll. The Pioneers placed three on the preseason All-Conference team. Catcher Sean Cotton, who was second in the conference with 69 RBIs last season, is joined on the first team by pitcher Tyler Collins and second baseman Payden Houser, who hit .404 last season.
Mars Hill College is predicted to finish fifth. The Lions received 59 points. Outfielder Rusty Smith was named to the preseason All-Conference first team, while catcher Adam Lewis and relief pitcher Tony Hearrell were both named to the second team. Smith hit .352 with 57 RBI, Lewis hit .398 with 55 RBI last season, while Hearrell was 4-1 with six saves.
Lincoln Memorial University received 54 points for sixth place. The Railsplitters placed three on the preseason All-Conference team with third baseman John Couch and outfielder Cody Pack on the first team, while outfielder Cody Baker was named to the second team. Pack was among the conference leaders in home runs and RBIs last season, while Baker was among the leaders with a .407 batting average.
Lenoir-Rhyne University is seventh with 39 points. The Bears return preseason All-Conference first-team designated hitter Brian Dice, who was second in the SAC with a .435 batting average last season while hitting 16 home runs and driving in 59 runs. Shortstop Dalton Hall and outfielder Stephen Andrews were named to the second team.
Anderson University received 29 points for eighth place. The Trojans placed two on the preseason All-Conference second team in first baseman Erick Sanderson and second baseman Ryan Saxon.
Newberry College is ninth with 27 points. The Wolves, under first-year coach Russell Triplett, placed two on the preseason All-Conference second team. Pitcher Josh McElwee, who led the league in strikeouts in 2008 and 2009, is joined by third baseman Chris Love.
Brevard College rounds out the poll with 11 points. The Tornados will be looking to move up in the standings under first-year coach Matt McCay.
The 2011 baseball season starts Tuesday, February 1, with four games. Catawba and Mars Hill open on the road, while Lenoir-Rhyne and Wingate open at home.
The 2011 Food Lion SAC Baseball Tournament will be April 20-23 in Forest City, N.C., at McNair Field. The top six teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the conference tournament.
2011 SAC BASEBALL COACHES POLL
1. Catawba (6) 94
2. Wingate (4) 86
3. Carson-Newman 78
4. Tusculum 73
5. Mars Hill 59
6. Lincoln Memorial 54
7. Lenoir-Rhyne 39
8. Anderson 29
9. Newberry 27
10. Brevard 11
2011 SOUTH ATLANTIC CONFERENCE
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE BASEBALL TEAMS
Catcher - Sean Cotten, Tusculum
Pitcher - Nathan Furr, Catawba
Pitcher - Austin Bridgewater, Carson-Newman
Pitcher - Tyler Collins, Tusculum
Relief Pitcher - Wil Huneycutt, Catawba
1st base - Brian Yeung, Wingate
2nd base - Payden Houser, Tusculum
Shortstop - Chris Vazquez, Wingate
3rd base - John Couch, Lincoln Memorial
Outfield - Cody Pack, Lincoln Memorial
Outfield - Rusty Smith, Mars Hill
Outfield - Dodson McPherson, Wingate
Designated Hitter - Brian Dice, Lenoir-Rhyne
Catcher - Adam Lewis, Mars Hill
Pitcher - Nick Lomascolo, Catawba
Pitcher - Josh McElwee, Newberry
Pitcher - Chris Nelson, Wingate
Relief Pitcher - Tony Hearrell, Mars Hill
1st base - Erick Sanderson, Anderson
2nd base - Ryan Saxon, Anderson
Shortstop - Dalton Hall, Lenoir-Rhyne
3rd base - Chris Love, Newberry
Outfield - Cody Baker, Lincoln Memorial
Outfield - Stephen Andrews, Lenoir-Rhyne
Outfield - Ryan Bostian, Catawba
Designated Hitter - Garrett Furr, Catawba