The Piedmont College baseball team has been picked to finish fourth in the 2014 USA South Preseason Poll, released Wednesday by the conference office.
The poll, as voted on by the baseball coaches of the 10 member institutions participating in the sport, saw Piedmont earn 58 points in the poll without earning a single first place vote coming in ahead of two teams who did receive a top vote.
New conference member Covenant College was picked to win the league as they return their top two outfielders and half of their infield as well as a trio of starting pitchers who combined for 19 wins in 2013. The Scots, who are receiving votes in the D3Baseball.com national poll, picked up 67 overall points in the poll getting three first place votes to tie for the highest such number along with Huntingdon College who also tallied a trio of top votes. However, the Hawks finished 5th in the poll, one spot behind Piedmont, with their 51 points after a 2013 season that featured their team as the #1 seed in the NCAA South Regional.
Second place in the poll belonged to North Carolina Wesleyan College with its 63 total points and two first place votes as the Battling Bishops also return several key pieces including three-time All-Conference catcher Tyler Clark. Also earning a first place nod was Methodist University who came in 3rd in the poll with its 60 points, just one point ahead of the Lions.
Piedmont returns a pair of ABCA All-Region performers from last season including pitcher Jacob Brewster and outfielder Josh Bailey. Brewster earned his nomination after spending the season on the mound for PC making 19 appearances for Head Coach Jim Peeples, the most by any Lion on the year. So far, the junior has nine saves through two seasons, halfway to the all-time high by a Piedmont pitcher, a mark of 18 held by former pitching great Tom Dimitroff.
Bailey returns to lead the Lions with his powerful bat at the plate having topped the team in doubles and homers last season, a feat which helped him earn recent acclaim by the Georgia Dugout Club who named Bailey the Division III Player of the Year in the state last season. The senior is looking to add a second conference title this season to his list of accolades at PC as he was a key piece of the Lions' 2011 Great South Athletic Conference championship team.
After Huntingdon in fifth in the poll, Averett came in 6th (49 points) and was followed by Maryville College who came in 7th with 46 points but did receive a first place vote. Rounding out the final three spots was Ferrum in 8th (23 points), LaGrange in 9th (20 points), and Greensboro in 10th with 13 points.
Piedmont begins the 2014 season with a two-game weekend series against Guilford College out of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. The season opener against the Quakers is set for a 4:00 pm first pitch on Saturday, February 1st. Piedmont will play 19 games at home this season as Loudermilk Field readies to host the 2014 NCAA South Regional in May.
The 2014 season also marks a first for the USA South as this year's regular season champion will represent the conference in the NCAA National Tournament.
For the first time ever, fans will be able to follow home action this season live on the Mane Event Broadcasting Network which will provide video broadcasts of all but three of those 19 home contests. WCON radio will also provide audio coverage for select home games in the area while live statistics will be provided for every home game played at Loudermilk.