MACON, Ga. – Following the most wins in Division I program history last season, the USC Upstate baseball team has been picked to finish third in the Atlantic Sun Conference, while Gaither Bumgardner and Chad Sobotka earned preseason accolades after record-breaking seasons a year ago.
After earning A-Sun Player of the Year honors at the conclusion of last season, Bumgardner was voted by the league's head coaches as the preseason Player of the Year and an All-Conference selection as an outfielder.
He hit .376 during his junior campaign, tallying 77 hits and 32 runs batted in. He recorded a team-high 12 doubles and added three triples and 43 runs batted in. Bumgardner opened last season on an eight-game hitting streak and ended the year hitting safely in 11 of 13 games.
Sobotka earned Preseason All-Conference honors as the lone relief pitcher after putting together one of the most dominating freshman pitching performances in Upstate baseball history. He tallied 12 saves, the most in a single season in Upstate history, and posted a 3-0 record in 25 relief appearances.
2013 Atlantic Sun Preseason Baseball Coaches' Poll
|Place||School (First Place Votes)
|3.||USC Upstate (3)||78
||Kennesaw St. (1)
The Sarasota, Fla., native recorded a 1.72 earned run average in 31.1 innings of work and notched 34 strikeouts, while opponents hit just .196 against the right-hander. He was a unanimous Atlantic Sun All-Freshman team selection and earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honors at the conclusion of his first collegiate season.
The Spartans were selected third in the 10-team league with 78 total points, finishing just behind Mercer and FGCU who tied for first with 81 points. Upstate and Mercer each tallied three first-place votes, while FGCU picked up two. The 2013 A-Sun Baseball Championship will take place may 22-26 on the campus of Stetson University in DeLand, Fla.
Kennesaw State and North Florida rounded out the top five respectively, while Stetson was sixth, ETSU seventh, Lipscomb eighth, Jacksonville ninth and league-newcomer Northern Kentucky was picked last in the preseason coaches poll.
Upstate opens the 2013 slate with 13 of their first 16 games at home, including the its season-opening weekend Feb. 15-17, when they will play host to Niagra University, the University of Kentucky and Georgetown University.
2013 Atlantic Sun Preseason Baseball All-Conference Team
|SP||Ricky Knapp, FGCU||Jr.||Port Charlotte, Fla.||Civil Engineering|
|SP||Chris Anderson, Jacksonville||Jr.||Lino Lakes, Minn.||Sports Management|
|SP||Tyler Moore, North Florida||Jr.||Ormond Beach, Fla.||Criminal Justice|
|RP||Chad Sobotka, USC Upstate||So.||Sarasota, Fla.||Undeclared|
|C||Corey Bass. North Florida||Sr.||Orlanda, Fla.||Health Science|
|1B||Clinton Freeman, ETSU||Jr.||Joesborough, Tenn.||History|
|2B||Andy Almonte, Kennesaw St.||Sr.||Moca, Puerto Rico||Exercise Science|
|2B||Joe Wielbruda, North Florida||Sr.||Youngstown, Ohio||Communications|
|3B||Chesny Young, Mercer||So.||Atlanta, Ga.||Business|
|SS||Evan Boyd, Mercer||Sr.||Albany, Ga.||Pre-Medicine|
|OF||Tyler Marincov, North Florida||Jr.||Orlando, Fla||Criminal Justice|
|OF||Derrick Workman, Mercer||Jr.||Acworth, Ga.||Education|
|OF||Gaither Bumgardner, USC Upstate||Sr.||Fort Lawn, S.C.||Physical Education|
|DH||Nick Bachlund, Mercer||Jr.||San Jose, Calif.||Economics|
|* - A tie in voting resulted in a 14-person team|
|Preseason Player of the Year: Gaither Bumgardner, USC Upstate
|Preseason Pitcher Player of the Year: Ricky Knapp, FGCU