Jan. 26, 2010

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Coastal Carolina predicted to win Big South


For the third straight year, Coastal Carolina has been picked as the preseason favorite in the Big South, in voting by the league’s head coaches and released by the conference office.


Chanticleer junior outfielder Rico Noel was named Preseason Player of the Year and Coastal Carolina junior Cody Wheeler (right) was selected Preseason Pitcher of the Year.


Coastal Carolina earned eight first-place notes and 97 of a possible 100 points. Under veteran head coach Gary Gilmore, the Chanticleers have claimed three straight Big South titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. Coastal returns seven starters and 18 letterwinners from a season ago.


Liberty claimed one first-place vote and 88 points to take second. Winthrop received one first-place vote and 81 points to come in third, followed by Radford, High Point, VMI, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, Presbyterian and UNC Asheville. Presbyterian, transitioning to Division I, is eligible for the regular-season crown, but not the tournament title.


Noel batted .315 as a sophomore with 17 doubles, eight homers and 45 RBI in 63 games. The First Team All-Big South performer led the league with 48 steals in 51 attempts, tying Tulane’s Josh Prince for first nationally. Noel had an on-base percentage of .427 and a slugging percentage of .500 a season ago.


Wheeler, the 2009 Big South Pitcher of the Year, went 10-1 as a sophomore with a 3.83 ERA in 15 starts. He recorded 98 strikeouts in 91.2 innings. Wheeler led the conference in victories, innings pitched and strikeouts. He tossed a complete-game no-hitter at Hawaii on March 26.


All 10 Big South teams open the 2010 season on Friday, Feb. 19. The first conference series is scheduled for the weekend of March 19-21. The 2010 Royal Purple Big South Baseball Championship will be May 25-29 at The Winthrop Ballpark in Rock Hill, S.C.


2010 Predicted Order of Finish

(2009 Big South/overall records, points, first-place votes)


1 Coastal Carolina (21-5, 47-16) 97 (8)

2 Liberty (17-9, 33-21) 88 (1)

3 Winthrop (18-9, 35-25) 81 (1)

4 Radford (16-9, 26-24) 68

5 High Point (11-12, 21-32) 59

6 VMI (10-15, 18-35) 48

7 Charleston Southern (10-16, 16-37) 40

8 Gardner-Webb (13-14, 25-25) 36

9 Presbyterian (7-19, 13-38) 18

10 UNC Asheville (5-21, 9-42) 15


(photo courtesy of Coastal Carolina Media Relations Office)