Both Sun Belt Appointment capacity aftermost analysis produced bound contest as no aggregation was able to authorize supremacy for abundant of the season. While that fabricated for an absorbing alliance to watch, it did the appointment no favors on Selection Monday and alone clash best Coastal Carolina avant-garde to the NCAA Tournament.
The Sun Belt this year should be in a bigger position to aftermath assorted regionals bids. Coastal afresh is awash with aptitude and it will be pushed in the East Analysis by Georgia Southern, South Alabama and Troy. The West Analysis afresh appears to be advanced open, with Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas-Arlington attractive like co-favorites to alpha the season.
Off the field, the Sun Belt has endured an emotionally difficult offseason. Louisiana drillmaster Tony Robichaux died in aboriginal July afterwards a affection attack. He was admired about the affairs and won added than 1,000 amateur during his career. At the end of January, Coastal Carolina arise drillmaster Gary Gilmore has a ample accumulation on his alarmist that doctors accept may be cancerous, awaiting added tests.
News like that puts baseball in angle activity into the 2020 season.
Player of the Year: Hayden Cantrelle, SS, Louisiana-Lafayette.
Drafted by the Yankees out of aerial school, Cantrelle has been a approved in the Ragin’ Cajuns calendar aback he accustomed on campus. He’s congenital an absorbing clue almanac for hitting, both with Louisiana and in the Cape Cod League. Aftermost year, he hit .309/.426/.504 with nine home runs and 28 baseborn bases and again agitated that drive into the summer on the Cape, breadth he hit .315/.427/.438 with three home runs and 19 baseborn bases. He’s the best hitter and the best anticipation in the conference.
Pitcher of the Year: Drake Nightengale, RHP, South Alabama.
Nightengale aftermost year transferred to USA afterwards two seasons at Pearl River (Miss.) JC and bound accustomed himself as one of the conference’s top pitchers. He went 6-2, 3.52 with 91 strikeouts in 71.2 innings. Listed at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Nightengale has a acceptable feel for his four-pitch mix and knows what he needs to do to get outs.
Freshman of the Year: William Sullivan, 1B, Troy.
Sun Belt teams about accompany in ample inferior academy classes and this year was no exception. But that doesn’t beggarly there aren’t absorbing freshmen in the conference. Troy landed two acceptable ones in Sullivan and infielder Kyle Mock. Sullivan gets the nod actuality as he’s advancing off a able chief year adjoin high-end antagonism in the Orlando area. He’s a concrete lefthanded hitter with absorbing ability abeyant who can accomplish an appulse this animation for the Trojans.
1. Coastal Carolina (36-26-1, 15-13)
After an outstanding 2018 analysis that saw them host a bounded in Springs Brooks Stadium for the aboriginal time, the Chanticleers took a bit of a footfall aback during the approved analysis in 2019. They accomplished two amateur abaft Georgia Southern in the East Analysis race. But they bounced aback in the Sun Belt Tournament, advancing out of the loser’s bracket, to affirmation the appellation for the additional beeline year. Coastal has the aptitude this analysis to add addition title, admitting they’ve already been met with some affliction this offseason. First, Preseason All-American centermost fielder Parker Chavers underwent accept anaplasty in December that will accumulate him out through at atomic the aboriginal bisected of the season. Then, aftermost weekend, Coastal arise drillmaster Gary Gilmore has a ample accumulation on his alarmist that doctors accept may be cancerous, awaiting added tests. With that blind over the Chants, baseball feels beneath important, but they do accept cogent upside. Chief ambush Scott McKeon (.340/.399/.484) will advance the breach in Chavers’ absence. The blow of the calendar isn’t as accomplished but isn’t defective on talent. Green infielder Nick Lucky (.234/.346/.344) was one of the headliners of Coastal’s Top 25 recruiting chic a year ago and will now be asked to booty on a bigger role. Redshirt inferior Fox Leum, a inferior academy transfer, is the latest ability bat to footfall in at aboriginal abject for the Chants. The casting agents is breadth the bigger upside is, however. Righthanders Zach McCambley (6-3, 5.21) and Garrett McDaniels (0-3, 8.35) accept some of the best being in the appointment but will charge their after-effects to booty a footfall forward. Coastal will acceptable charge a few weeks to array out its best calendar and alignment on the mound. Once it gets through those growing pains, it should be a force aback appointment comedy begins.
2. South Alabama (30-26, 16-14)
The Jaguars accept absent the NCAA Clash in back-to-back seasons but attending to be accessible to accomplish their acknowledgment to regionals in 2020. Chief righthander Drake Nightengale (6-2, 3.52) aftermost year accustomed himself as one of the best pitchers in the alliance and gives the Jaguars a reliable Friday starter. Outfielder Ethan Wilson (.345/.453/.686, 17 HR) is a superstar in the authoritative and is advancing off a Apprentice All-American season. The Jaguars accept a able alignment of aptitude about that brace of stars. Offensively, redshirt inferior outfielder Michael Sandle (.320/.397/.511) and chief Kaleb DeLa Torre (.301/.391/.478), who will move from third to aboriginal base, accord the Jaguars two added accomplished hitters in the affection of the order. The casting agents abaft Nightengale isn’t as accomplished but has solid upside. Inferior righthander JoJo Booker (4-3, 4.19) has been up to 96 mph and has flashed the being that fabricated him a fourth-round aces out of aerial academy but hasn’t put it all calm yet. If he does and South Alabama hits on a few of its inferior academy transfers like Matt Boswell, Tyler Samaniego and Miles Smith, it has a agents that will assemblage up agreeably with anyone in the conference. Alike if they don’t, the Jaguars still accept abundant to argue in the Sun Belt.
3. Troy (31-29, 16-14)
Following a cruise to regionals in 2018, Troy took a bit of a footfall aback aftermost analysis as it reset. The Trojans still accomplished angry for additional in the aggressive East Analysis and accomplished 30 wins for the fifth beeline season. Troy this analysis has a adventitious to accomplish a acknowledgment to the NCAA Clash acknowledgment to a adept agenda that actualization 11 seniors and some high-end talent. Inferior outfielder Rigsby Mosley (.356/.430/.554, 7 HR), the Trojans’ arch hitter, and chief ambush Drew Frederic (.318/.410/.527, 11 HR, 20 SB) acknowledgment to banderole the offense. Outfielders Logan Cerny (.267/.336/.495, 9 HR, 13 SB) and Dalton Sinquefield (.307/.379/.431) accord the Trojans two added accomplished players in the calendar and they’ll additionally mix in accomplished freshmen Kyle Mock and William Sullivan. On the mound, inferior righthander Levi Thomas (8-2, 4.24) is accessible to move to the advanced of the circling and chief righthander Lance Johnson (4-1, 2.80)—who has a adventitious to set the affairs almanac for appearances—returns to ballast the bullpen. If inferior academy transfers like Tyson Ellis, Orlando Ortiz-Mayr and D.J. Wilkinson are accessible to accord appropriate abroad and above ace Cory Gill bounces aback from accept surgery, the casting agents could accept acceptable depth.
4. Georgia Southern (35-24, 18-12)
The Eagles aftermost analysis won the East Analysis and again marched to the Sun Belt Clash championship game. Georgia Southern fell to Coastal Carolina, however, and admitting owning wins adjoin Auburn, Georgia and West Virginia, it didn’t absolutely accept the RPI for an at-large NCAA Clash bid, bringing an adverse end to its season. The Eagles should abide in altercation at the top of the analysis this analysis as they acknowledgment some key pieces from that team. Seniors Steven Curry (.346/.470/.437) and Mason McWhorter (.321/.382/.567, 12 HR), their top two hitters, are aback to ballast the lineup. Slugger Noah Ledford (.291/.380/.510, 11 HR) additionally allotment afterwards a able apprentice season. Georgia Southern has some holes to ample on the mound. Chief righthander Tyler Owens (7-1, 4.26) gives it an accomplished arm in the rotation, but it charge alter ace Seth Shuman, who was drafted in the sixth annular aftermost season. Georgia Southern aftermost year had a appalling two-headed monster in the abode in Cole Whitney and Hayden Harris. Whitney is gone, but Harris (3-1, 3.24, 8 SV) allotment and the inferior lefthander is a able weapon for the Eagles. The Eagles biconcave into the inferior academy ranks heavily in their recruiting chic to furnish their abyss on the bank and will charge some of the newcomers to footfall up. If they do, the Eagles accept the adequacy of addition able team.
5. Appalachian State (22-31, 13-16)
The Mountaineers accept fabricated abiding advance beneath drillmaster Kermit Smith, who enters his fourth analysis with the program. Their 13 appointment wins aftermost analysis were their best aback 2013, aback they were still in the Southern Conference. Green Luke Drumheller (.337/.401/.452), and juniors Tyler Leek (.323/.387/.535) and Kendall McGowan (.305/.370/.524, 8 HR, 11 SB), App State’s top hitters aftermost season, acknowledgment to ballast the offense. The casting agents has a few added holes to fill. Starters Brandon Boone and Will Sprinkle and abode ace Kaleb Bowman are all gone. Righthander Tyler Tuthill (6-7, 4.36) allotment to the circling afterwards an absorbing apprentice analysis and chief afterpiece Andrew Papp (1-1, 3.38, 6 SV) is aback as well. Convalescent a aegis that ranked ninth in the alliance in fielding (.963) will be important for the Mountaineers. Taking the abutting footfall as a affairs to become one of the top four teams in the aggressive East Analysis won’t be easy, but Smith has App State affective in the appropriate direction.
6. Georgia State (15-41, 6-24)
The Panthers had languished for the aftermost few years, not announcement a acceptable analysis aback 2015, but it wasn’t until aftermost analysis that they bottomed out with their atomic wins aback 1994. Following the season, Georgia State beggared means with Greg Frady, who spent 13 seasons as drillmaster and has the best wins in affairs history, and assassin Brad Stromdahl to booty over the program. Stromdahl spent bristles seasons as an abettor beneath Frady afore he was called in the abatement of 2011 to alpha NAIA Georgia Gwinnett’s affairs from scratch. He bound congenital a assertive and led the Grizzlies to the NAIA World Series three times. He’ll now try to animate the Panthers. They’ll accept acquaintance up the average with chief catcher Dalton Davies (.261/.390/.328), chief additional baseman Daino Deas (.266/.315/.344), inferior ambush Griffin Cheney (.300/.368/.369) and green centermost fielder Josh Smith (.273/.350/.327) all returning. It won’t be a able lineup, but the Panthers accept some acceleration and athleticism. On the mound, they face the difficult assignment of convalescent a 7.00 aggregation ERA, the affliction mark in the conference, while replacing ace Hunter Gaddis, who was drafted in the fifth round. Sophomores Joseph Brandon (1-5, 9.53), Seth Clark (2-2, 8.21) and Ryan Watson (6-5, 7.08) all got acquaintance aftermost animation and will be asked to footfall up this season. Stromdahl isn’t walking into a turnkey operation and some growing pains this analysis should be expected.
1. Texas-Arlington (32-26, 17-12)
The Mavericks aftermost won the West Analysis in 2017 and access this year’s wide-open chase as favorites. They acknowledgment a veteran-laden aggregation with 18 players entering at atomic their fourth analysis of academy baseball. UTA allotment seven audience in the lineup, including chief outfielder Connor Aube (.354/.402/.529, 16 SB) and redshirt chief ambush Josh Minjarez (.307/.361/.482, 9 HR). Aftermost season’s calendar had acceptable abyss to it and with so abundant acquaintance returning, it should be one of the conference’s bigger offenses this spring. UTA is not as accomplished on the bank and it charge alter starters Ka’ikepono Anderson and Drew Gooch and afterpiece Andrew Gross. Inferior righthander David Moffat (4-4, 4.33) allotment to the circling and righthander Cade Winquest (5-1, 5.01) got some starting acquaintance as a freshman. The Mavericks will accept to acquisition some new pitchers to footfall up, decidedly in the abode breadth Gross ranked additional in the nation with 17 saves. But drillmaster Darin Thomas will accept options and the account of a abundance of acquaintance throughout the team.
2. Louisiana-Lafayette (28-31, 15-15)
Louisiana has been through a difficult offseason. Tony Robichaux, the winningest drillmaster in affairs history, died in aboriginal July afterwards adversity a affection attack. He had been the Ragin’ Cajuns drillmaster for 25 years and led them to their first-ever Academy World Series actualization in 2000. He was a admired amount about the affairs and affective on afterwards him won’t be easy. That assignment avalanche to Matt Deggs, who spent three years as an abettor drillmaster beneath Robichaux afore a acknowledged run as arch drillmaster at Sam Houston State. Deggs inherits a aggregation that is advancing off its aboriginal accident analysis aback 2012 but has solid talent, starting with ambush Hayden Cantrelle (.309/.426/.504, 9 HR, 28 SB). He impacts the bold in abounding means and has accustomed himself as the conference’s top prospect. Chief centermost fielder Brennan Breaux (.295/.426/.381, 11 SB) gives the aggregation addition accomplished amateur up the middle. They do accept some cogent holes to ample afterwards accident four key audience in the lineup. Louisiana hit the inferior academy ranks adamantine and allotment three players who absent aftermost analysis due to injuries. It may booty the calendar some time to arise together, but Deggs is a awful admired abhorrent drillmaster and will get the Cajuns’ bats activity afore long. They’ll accept a new attending on the mound, as well, afterwards bringing in a beyond crop of inferior academy transfers. Righthander Carter Robinson aftermost year was the inferior academy abode of the year at Mesa (Ariz.) JC and will footfall appropriate into the rotation. Righthanders Conor Angel, Dane Dixon and Jeff Wilson all accept appulse abeyant advancing out of the inferior academy ranks. If Louisiana hits on its transfers, there’s amazing upside for Deggs’ aboriginal season.
3. Texas State (36-20, 20-10)
The Bobcats aftermost animation won the Sun Belt’s approved analysis appellation for the aboriginal time aback abutting the alliance and spent abundant of the analysis about the NCAA Clash bubble. But they went 0-2 in the Sun Belt Tournament, scuttling their hopes for their aboriginal bounded bid aback 2011. Following the season, Ty Harrington retired afterwards 20 seasons as arch coach. Steven Trout, who had spent six seasons as an abettor drillmaster in San Marcos, was answer to alter him. He takes over a aggregation with solid abiding aptitude in the lineup. Redshirt chief outfielder Will Hollis (.320/.452/. 520), inferior ambush Dalton Shuffield (.330/.393/.427, 10 SB), chief additional baseman Jaxon Williams (.318/.432/.425) and inferior outfielder John Wuthrich (.311/402/.565, 8 HR) accord the Bobcats a strong, adept amount in the lineup. On the mound, Texas State has some holes to ample afterwards accident its absolute circling to the draft. Chief righthander Zachary Leigh (3-1, 4.41, 6 SV) will move from the aback of the abode to the advanced of the rotation. Inferior academy alteration Trevis Sundgren is a solid advantage to move into the circling and seniors Wes Engle, who absent 2019 due to injury, and Garrett Hermann (4-2, 5.64) will get a attempt as well. Texas State is accomplished abundant to affected the losses and abide in altercation in the division.
4. Arkansas-Little Rock (29-28, 18-11)
Little Rock is architecture beneath drillmaster Chris Curry, who is entering his sixth analysis at the program’s helm. The Trojans aftermost year accomplished additional in the West Analysis and accept able for the Sun Belt Clash in anniversary of the aftermost four years, article that had happened alone seven times all-embracing in the program’s aboriginal 23 years in the appointment afore Curry’s arrival. They’ll accept a new-look calendar this animation afterwards accident bristles audience off aftermost year’s team. The acceptable account is that redshirt inferior catcher Kale Emshoff is aback afterwards missing aftermost analysis due to Tommy John surgery. He hit .273/.377/.415 in 2018 and now looks accessible to booty a cogent footfall forward. He has big raw ability and has Sun Belt amateur of the year upside if he puts it all calm this spring. If he can do that and some of Little Rock’s inferior academy transfers accommodate actual impact, the calendar doesn’t accept to booty a footfall aback admitting its losses. On the mound, ace Chandler Fidel is gone, but inferior righthander Hayden Arnold (5-3, 4.17) and redshirt chief righthander Jose Torres (2-4, 5.37) accept acquaintance casting in the rotation. Chief righthander Dillon Delgadillo (1-0, 3.77) will booty over as afterpiece and chief righthander Eli Sievert, who was bound by abrasion in 2019, could accord the agents addition high-end arm if he’s able to animation aback and comedy a bigger role.
5. Louisiana-Monroe (27-31, 12-17)
In drillmaster Michael Federico’s additional season, ULM aftermost year produced its best analysis aback 2012, the alone time in the aftermost decade it had a acceptable almanac or accomplished regionals. The Warhawks accept fabricated abiding advance beneath Federico and accept the adequacy of addition solid aggregation this year. ULM will accept a new-look calendar afterwards accident four regulars, including Chad Bell, whose 21 home runs aftermost analysis led the conference, and arch hitter Trent Tingelstad. But seniors Andrew Beesley (.329/.410/.427, 14 SB) and Ryan Humeniuk (.253/.362/.431, 7 HR, 17 SB) return. With 17 players entering at atomic their fourth year of academy baseball on the roster, the Warhawks will still accept an earlier lineup, alike if it does accept several new faces. On the mound, seniors Ty Barnes (5-3, 5.69) and Kayleb Sanderson (3-4, 5.89) acknowledgment with affluence of starting experience, and seniors Conner Deeds (2-2, 5.13) and Landon Longsworth (1-0, 5.55) will ballast the bullpen. ULM will charge to advance its 6.45 aggregation ERA, which ranked 11th in the Sun Belt, but it is affective in the appropriate administration overall.
6. Arkansas State (26-29, 11-19)
The Red Wolves started the 2019 analysis red hot and were 19-9 all-embracing and 7-2 in the Sun Belt at the end of March. That was the high-water mark for the season, however. Arkansas State went aloof 7-20 the blow of the way and accomplished in aftermost abode in the West Division. It’ll attending to animation aback in 2020. Chief Sky-Lar Culver (.316/.398/.493), the team’s arch hitter, returns, as does redshirt chief centermost fielder Drew Tipton (.276/.393/.350, 27 SB). The calendar about them will attending actual altered afterwards A-State brought in a ample inferior academy class. The casting agents will accept added accustomed faces. Seniors Chandler Coates (4-5, 5.13), Zach Jackson (6-5, 4.46) and Zech Jarrard (2-4, 4.93) accumulated to arise in 55 amateur aftermost year and all return. Seniors Jack Jumper (2-3, 1.87) and Kollin Stone (1-2, 3.30, 6 SV) acknowledgment to ballast the bullpen.
1. Hayden Cantrelle, SS, Louisiana-Lafayette2. Parker Chavers, OF, Coastal Carolina3. Kale Emshoff, C, Arkansas-Little Rock4. Zach McCambley, RHP, Coastal Carolina5. JoJo Booker, RHP, South Alabama6. Rigsby Mosley, OF, Troy7. Conner Angel, RHP, Louisiana-Lafayette8. Scott McKeon, SS, Coastal Carolina9. Michael Sandle, OF, South Alabama10. Hayden Harris, LHP, Georgia Southern11. Levi Thomas, RHP, Troy12. Carter Robinson, RHP, Louisiana-Lafayette13. Daulton Shuffield, SS, Texas State14. Drake Nightengale, RHP, South Alabama15. Orlando Ortiz, RHP, Troy16. Fox Leum, 1B, Coastal Carolina17. Eli Sievert, RHP, Arkansas-Little Rock18. Connor Aube, OF, Texas-Arlington19. John Wutrich, OF, Texas State20. David Moffat, RHP, Texas-Arlington
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