Jan. 25, 2011

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Coastal Carolina is unanimous choice to win Big South

La Stella, Meo earn individual honors


For the fourth straight year, Coastal Carolina was picked to win the Big South Conference, in voting by the league’s head coaches and released by the conference office.


Two Chanticleers received individual honors. Junior second baseman Tommy La Stella was voted Preseason Player of the Year, while junior right-hander Anthony Meo was named Preseason Pitcher of the Year.


Coastal earned all 10 first-place votes to be the unanimous favorite. The Chants have won four straight Big South titles and earned four consecutive NCAA tourney berths. Coastal has reached the Super Regionals twice in the past three years. Head coach Gary Gilmore (pictured above) has posted a record of 609-303 (.668) in 15 seasons at Coastal. He guided the Chants to a perfect 25-0 mark in conference play in 2010 as Coastal set a league record with 55 wins. The Chants return seven position starters and 17 letter-winners.


Liberty, last season’s tourney runner-up, placed second in the preseason voting. Winthrop came in third and High Point took fourth. VMI and Radford tied for fifth, followed by Gardner-Webb, Charleston Southern, UNC Asheville and Presbyterian.


La Stella batted .378 a season ago, the top mark on the team and fifth in the Big South. He had 93 hits and fanned just 15 times. La Stella had 14 homers and 66 RBI with a slugging percentage of .622. He hit .442 with nine homers and 34 RBI in conference games.


La Stella received eight first-place votes and 17 points to finished ahead of Tyler Bream of Liberty, who got two first-place votes and six points. Nick Chinners of Charleston Southern was third with three points.


Meo was the unanimous pick as 2010 Big South Pitcher of the Year, as he was for 2011 Preseason Pitcher of the Year. He was 13-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 18 starts. Meo was a perfect 8-0 in league games with a 1.27 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 49.2 innings. The All-American was a semifinalist for both the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award.


Steven Evans of Liberty was second in the preseason pitcher voting, followed by Ryan Dull of UNC Asheville and Adam Lopez of VMI.


The 2011 season kicks off on Friday, Feb. 18, with all 10 Big South teams in action. Conference play begins the weekend of March 18-20. The 2011 Royal Purple Big South Championship will be held for the first time at VMI’s Gray-Minor Stadium in Lexington, Va., on May 24-28.


Big South Preseason Poll

Team, Points (First Place Votes) (2010 Big South, Overall Records)

1. Coastal Carolina, 100 (10) (25-0, 55-10)
2. Liberty, 90 (19-8, 42-19)

3. Winthrop, 68 (13-14, 27-30)

4. High Point, 63 (15-12, 31-29)

5. VMI, 61 (13-14, 33-22)

5. Radford, 61 (15-11, 29-26)

7. Gardner-Webb, 39 (10-17, 25-30)

8. Charleston Southern, 30 (6-20, 17-38)

9. UNC Asheville, 26 (10-17, 17-35)

10. Presbyterian, 12 (7-20, 15-39)

Preseason Player of the Year: Tommy La Stella, Coastal Carolina, junior second baseman

Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Anthony Meo, Coastal Carolina, junior right-hander


(photo courtesy of Coastal Carolina Media Relations Office)