Monday, June 9, 2008

Outstanding in Their Fields

Well, it's time to put a wrap on Big South baseball for this year.

Although it would be really nice to say that more games were ahead, our last Conference contender has finished now that Coastal Carolina lost the Cary, NC, Super Regional series to the UNC Tar Heels in two games.

North Carolina was the nation's number two overall seed and the Heels had several opportunities to demonstrate their worthiness for Omaha, but don't sell the Chants short--after winning the Big South, they hosted a Regional and won their way through it (as seen in the asterisk-shaped celebration pictured at right), then fought a tough battle in the Super Regional in falling to UNC.

I was at the USA Baseball Training Center in Cary for Sunday's game (UNC has used the USA facility as a home site this year during renovations to the field on campus in Chapel Hill), and let me tell you--everybody on the field (umpires included, of course) and in the stands should get credit for withstanding the brutal heat to play that game or support their teams. Wow, what a scorcher! Even trying to take extra steps to handle the conditions could not properly prepare you for frying like bacon out there--late July, maybe I could understand, but it's not supposed to soar past 100 like that here in early June! Oh well, no more whining, it was worth it for all the CCU and Big South fans to make the trek into ACC territory to root for the Coastal squad even with the weather. You can't hang your head when you've earned one of the last 16 team slots in the country (still, the College World Series was tantalizingly close)...

In any case, the month of June also means baseball honors and the Major League Baseball Draft.

Five Big South stars made that squad--all of them from Palmetto State teams: Charleston Southern had the trio of shortstop Taylor Black, outfielder Steve Antolik, and designated hitter Derek Smith; Coastal Carolina's Scott Woodward at third base; and Winthrop DH Eddie Rohan (pictured at right). Add to that recognition CCU catcher Dock Doyle making 2nd Team All-American (and the Johnny Bench Award watch list--the top collegiate catcher honor will be given out June 27th). While on the subject of trophies, the Wallace Award will be given in July to the top collegiate baseball player...finalists will be announced soon, but the list of candidates includes the aforementioned Mr. Doyle (pictured below) and UNC Asheville RHP Alan DeRatt.

Now to the topic of the MLB all, 14 players got selected out of Big South schools in rounds 5-38 of the First-Year Player Draft last Thursday and Friday. That figure matches the total from the previous year and comes only two players shy of the Conference record (16 were drafted in 2005). The Chanticleers had two first-day draftees, each taken in the 5th round: pitcher Pete Andrelczyk (148th overall by the Marlins) and Dock Doyle (164th overall by the Mets). Coastal wound up with the most picks (5) of Big South teams, but six schools had at least one: CCU-5, VMI-3, UNCA-2, Liberty-2, Radford-1, High Point-1. Check out the full list of Conference draftees at Big South

That might be it for today...I'll part with a couple quick hits of information for you--hate to say this, but High Point University will be dropping its men's and women's tennis programs (never like to report sports leaving the scene, but facts are facts)...and in business news, Big South Conference partner JumpTV is merging with NeuLion to create an even more powerful presence in the ever-growing sports internet-video market (merger announced just this morning).
Until next time, keep an ear open for the Big South SHOUT!

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