FMU tabbed for fifth in preseason PBC baseball poll
AUGUSTA, GA – Francis Marion University has been tabbed to finish fifth according to the 2009 Peach Belt Conference preseason baseball poll voted on by the league’s head coaches and released on Tuesday (Jan. 20). Columbus State University was selected as the preseason favorite.
CSU, the defending conference champion, received seven of a possible nine first-place votes for 77 total points, six points ahead of second-place North Georgia College & State University. USC Aiken (63) was third, followed by Georgia College & State University (56), Francis Marion (55), Armstrong Atlantic State University (42), UNC Pembroke (34), Augusta State University (23), Lander University (18), and Georgia Southwestern State University (11).
FMU is ranked 33rd in the preseason Collegiate Baseball Magazine NCAA II Top 40 poll. Ninth-year head coach Art Inabinet welcomes back 15 lettermen, including four position starters and three starting pitchers, from last year’s squad that finished 34-20. FMU tied for third during the 2008 PBC regular season, advanced to the PBC Tournament title game, and narrowly missed earning a bid to the NCAA II national tournament for the second year in a row.
Senior All-Region catcher Jared Barkdoll (.362, 7 HRs, 50 RBIs) leads the returning starters. First baseman Preston Shuey (.344, 7 HRs, 55 RBIs), last year’s PBC Freshman of the Year, also returns as does senior third baseman Keon Graves (.262, 8 HRs, 41 RBIs) and junior outfielder Trent Knight (.261, 17 RBIs). Senior righty David Walters (9-4 record, 4.66 ERA), who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 47th round but chose to return to school, leads the returning starters on the mound.
FMU opens its season at home on Feb. 1 with a doubleheader against 21st-ranked Valdosta State. The Patriots are 130-40-1 in their last 171 home games at “The Cliff.”
The PBC Tournament is set for May 9-10 in Aiken, S.C. The tournament format has changed for 2009, with the top eight teams gathering for a two-day, single-elimination tournament.
Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.
2009 Peach Belt Conference Baseball Preseason Poll