Salisbury Leads 2019 CAC Baseball Preseason Poll; Christopher Newport Second
Salisbury Leads 2019 CAC Baseball Preseason Poll; Christopher Newport Second

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Three-time defending champion Salisbury edged Christopher Newport for the top spot in the 2019 Capital Athletic Conference Baseball Preseason Poll. The Sea Gulls totaled six first-place votes and 48 points to narrowly edge out CNU (43 points, 2 first-place votes) in a vote among the conference head coaches. 

Penn State Harrisburg finished third in the voting with 36 points, followed by Frostburg State (31) and York (22) in the top five. Mary Washington (21) was close behind in sixth position with Southern Virginia (12) and St. Mary's (11) occupying the final two spots.

The CAC Tournament will once again feature the new format as introduced last season, with all eight programs competing in the postseason event spread across two weekends. The opening weekend (May 3-4) will feature a pair of three-team, double-elimination pods hosted by the top two seeds. The winners of those pods will square off the following weekend (May 10-11) at the highest remaining seeds' field.

The 2019 season begins this weekend as four teams get underway, while conference play begins on March 15th. 

2019 CAC Baseball Preseason Poll

Points (First-Place Votes)
1. Salisbury 48 (6)
2. Christopher Newport 43 (2)
3. Penn State Harrisburg 36
4. Frostburg State 31
 5.  York 22
6. Mary Washington 21
7. Southern Virginia 12
8. St. Mary's 11

Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2019 campaign: 

1) SALISBURY, and head coach Troy Brohawn (5th season) will look to defend their CAC championship for the fourth straight season in 2019. The Sea Gulls return six members of last season's starting lineup in Justin Meekins (.356), Jack Barry (.413), Matt Padeway (.317), Jack Decker (.367), Jay Perry (.283) and Will Gutekunst (.282). The rotation will feature mostly newcomers in Zach Amisano, Matt Grogan, Jason McDonough and Clayton Dwyer.

Number of returning starters (6):
Jack Decker (DH), Matt Padeway (C), Jay Perry (1B), Will Gutekunst (2B), Jack Barry (3B/2B), Justin Meekins (CF)

Notable statistics:
Jack Barry (25) needs 10 home runs in his senior season to break the CAC career home runs record (currently 34 – set by Salisbury's Jason Ewing from 1999-02). Justin Meekins finished tied for first in the CAC with 57 runs scored in 2018.

Returning All-CAC performers (4):
First Team (2): Justin Meekins (CF), Matt Padeway (C)
Second Team (2): Jack Barry (3B/2B), Jack Decker (DH)

Returning All-Region Performers (2):
Rawlings/ABCA South Region Second Team (2): Jack Barry (3B/2B), Justin Meekins (CF) South Region First Team (1): Justin Meekins (CF) South Region Second Team (1): Jack Barry (3B/2B)

2) After reaching the NCAA South Regional Championship a year ago, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT returns the bulk of it's offensive lineup heading into the 2019 season. The Captains are led by first-team All-American Seth Woodard and are ranked No. 13 in the nation by to start the year. Woodard was selected as a Preseason All-American after a tremendous junior year that saw him slash .386/.511/.705 while driving in 65 runs with 57 runs scored. He headlines an offense that also includes fellow seniors Jordan Mason (.308, 20-20 SB), and Nicholas Baham (10 HR, 43 RBI). On the mound, CNU will return sophomores Josh Husby (5-0, 2.76 ERA) and Gray Goodrich (5-3, 5.24 ERA) in the rotation and veteran relievers Brian Owens (3-0, 2.88 ERA) and Austin Slough (3-2, 3.21 ERA) to lead the bullpen.  

3) PENN STATE HARRISBURG is coming off its most successful season in program history. Last spring, the Lions won 31 games and made a run to the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship Series. The Blue & White return American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-Region First-Team outfielder Bret Williams, as well as First-Team All CAC infielder Miguel Torres. The team also returns six of its top eight hitters from a year ago, as well as three of its four starting pitchers and closer from last season. With much of the 2018 core still intact, the Lions look poised to replicate last season's success this spring.

Returning Starters: 8 of 9 position players, 3 of 4 starting pitchers

Notable Statistics:
Bret Williams led the CAC in home runs in 2018 (14), Bret Williams was second in the CAC in RBI (57), Bret Williams was third in the CAC in slugging percentage (.696)

Returning All-CAC Players:
Bret Williams, OF, 2x All-CAC
Miguel Torres, SS, 1x All-CAC

Returning All-Region Players:
Bret Williams, OF, 1x All-Region

4) FROSTBURG STATE graduated 11 seniors last spring, but 12th-year head coach Guy Robinson returns some key pieces to his club. Nick Furhmann (.299, 27 RBI) and Jason Paredes (.277, 17 runs) return to lead the lineup at the plate, while Daniel Ryczek (8 app., 12 Ks) and Mike Livingston (6 svs.) return on the mound. Fuhrmann finished near the top of the team with 27 RBI and 35 hits, while Livingston finished second in the CAC with six saves to go along with three wins and a 3.65 ERA.

5) The YORK COLLEGE baseball team enters the 2019 campaign with some uncertainty after losing six starters including two-time All-South Region outfielder Seth Brosius and their number one starting pitcher, Joel Kenney, who concluded his career with three straight complete-game victories over Salisbury, Mary Washington, and Frostburg State. The Spartans return All-CAC first-team outfielder Grant Oberholtzer as well as CAC Rookie-of-the-Year Jack Barry who will make the move form designated hitter to full-time first baseman. Senior starters Will Grega and Bobby Kuehn will lead a young pitching staff for the Green and White. York opens up their season against New England College on March 4th in Myrtle Beach, S.C. 

Returning Starting Position Players: 3

Returning Starting Pitchers: 2

Notable Statistics:
Grant Oberholtzer 1st in hits (72), tied for 1st in runs (57), tied for 2nd in doubles (17), 3rd in CAC in batting average (.407). Jack Barry 3rd in RBI (50), tied for 5th in homeruns (8).

Returning All-CAC Players: 2
Grant Oberholtzer 1st-Team, Jack Barry Rookie-of-the-Year

Returning All-Region Players: 1
Grant Oberholtzer, 2nd-Team ABCA South Region

6) MARY WASHINGTON, guided by head coach Wayne Riser, will look to make a trip back to the CAC tournament this season. On the mound they will be led by senior Hank Biggs (38 K's) and junior Robert Cross (3.09 ERA). Stephen Johnston (.361 BA), Nick Bass (.336 BA), and All-CAC performer Christian Hague (.352 BA) will all be back in the heart of the lineup. Key newcomers include Marcel Barrett, Norman Holcomb, and Garrett Zendek. 

Number of returning position players: 5

Number of returning pitchers: 2

Returning All-CAC performers:
Christian Hague, 1B, Second team All-CAC in 2018

7) SOUTHERN VIRGINIA continues to improve after last year's record setting season after making the CAC Tournament for the first time in school history. In addition to making the tournament, the Knights went 18-18 overall and 9-9 in conference, the best record for the Knights since joining DIII ranks. The Knights return eight starters in total, with a majority coming from the field. The Knights will look for new faces and their young pitching core to adapt and improve the Knights to another record breaking season. The Knights return one All-CAC performer in Cole Critchfield who was named First Team after a strong sophomore season. 

8) The ST. MARY COLLEGE OF MARYLAND baseball team is set for their 2019 campaign. The Seahawks look to improve off of their 11-20, 4-14 CAC record from last season. St. Mary's returns 23 players from last season and brings in 20 newcomers to their roster.

The Seahawks return one All-CAC selection from last season in Jay Hammett. The redshirt junior was selected to the Second Team. The 6-1 first baseman hit .390 last season with 46 hits, 21 RBI, 18 runs scored, 12 doubles, two home runs, and a triple in 118 at-bats. He posted a .452 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .559 while hitting in the No. 3 spot in the order for the Seahawks all season long.

He ranked  fifth in the conference in batting average, tied for ninth in doubles, and 12th in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage while coming in 13th with 190 putouts. Hammett notched a .995 fielding percentage with only one error in 196 chances and helped to turn 10 of the team's 15 double plays this season. The Seahawks return nine players that received 60 or more at-bats from last season and five pitchers that have thrown 25 or more innings.