Feb. 10, 2014

CBI Big South Preview

Camels Look to Finish Job

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

sean@collegebaseballinsider.com @collbaseball


One inning. One run. One win.


After Liberty scored a run in the top of the ninth to take a 2-1 win over Campbell to claim the Big South Tournament title, the Camels and their 49 wins awaited an at-large bid.


It didn’t come.


“That was a very difficult time,” Campbell coach Greg Goff (left) said. “Last year, really going through that whole experience really made us grow in our faith and what we’re doing.”


This year’s Camels blend some new pieces – particularly up the middle with a new catcher, second baseman, shortstop and center fielder – with some old. Starting pitchers Heath Bowers (9-0, 1.69 ERA) and Hector Cedano (8-2, 3.50) return.


And Ryan Thompson (right), who was virtually unhittable in a 9-1, 10-save campaign, and his 0.88 ERA also is back – the righty sidearmer was the 2013 Big South Pitcher of the Year and claims the honor this preseason.


“It makes such a huge difference if you have a lead in the seventh, eighth or ninth and give him the ball,” Goff said of Thompson, a CollegeBaseballInsider.com honorable mention All-American who led the nation with a 0.88 ERA.


A year after the NCAA Tournament Committee cited a weak schedule, Campbell plays nine teams that made the postseason in 2013, including North Carolina, NC State, UNC Wilmington, William & Mary and conference foes Liberty and Coastal Carolina.


The Flames and Chanticleers were tabbed by Big South coaches as the teams to beat in the North and South divisions – the Camels tied with the Flames with six first-place votes in the North. Gardner-Webb and Radford, which both boast plenty of returning pitching depth, are teams to watch, according to Goff.


“I really think our league has really grown, just in the two years I’ve been here,” Goff said. “The bottom and top are not that far apart…Every weekend, it’s a battle.”


For the Camels, Goff said not much has changed even though his squad is among the favorites. He’s quick to point out his squad controlled its destiny to win the Big South tourney and that it will use that as a positive for this year. The Camels’ mentality is to work harder and outhustle their peers.


“Our guys don’t want to have that feeling that we felt,” Goff said. “Watching the selection show and being left out.”


One goal.

(photos by Bennett Scarborough)