01/30/09 — MOC coaches offer insight on teams

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MOC coaches offer insight on teams

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on January 30, 2009 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Spring sports coaches at Mount Olive College gave sneak previews of their respective teams on Wednesday, but none drew greater attention than the baseball squad -- the reigning NCAA Division II national champion.

The Trojans, ranked No. 1 in two preseason polls, begin defense of their crown Sunday at Armstrong Atlantic State University. MOC returns just three starters and lost four All-Americans to graduation a year ago.

"Everybody has awfully high expectations of our team because we've got three returners and we're picked No. 1 in the nation again," said Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster. "I don't know how we're going to pull this one off. This year we have a lot of question marks.

"We've always got someone chasing us down and I've always felt like it's better to be the rabbit than the hounds."

Mount Olive's softball team finished runner-up in the Conference Carolinas tournament last season. Nearly the entire starting lineup returns along with 12 newcomers, including three JUCO transfers.

The Trojans open their season Feb. 14 at Catawba.

Mount Olive's tennis program, which has a Brazilian flair this season, is continuing rise under head coach Dr. Burt Lewis' guidance. The men's squad is ranked No. 33 in the ITA Division II preseason poll.

Alexandre Queiros, a Conference Carolinas all-tournament selection last season, is one of five returning starters for Mount Olive. The Trojans, who finished 13-12 overall a year ago, take the court Feb. 7 at Coastal Carolina.

A new program last season, track and field will compete for a Conference Carolinas championship this season. The program, directed by head coach Bill Hodge, has seen phenomenal growth from 2008.

Hodge has been busy blazing the recruiting trails and has brought in 40 freshmen to bolster a squad that had just 12 members a year ago. Cort McCombs, Hodge's first recruit, returns to anchor the men's side.

The Trojans begin their season Mar. 8 at the Braves Classic Invitational at UNC Pembroke.