01/21/10 — MOC baseball earns preseason honor

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MOC baseball earns preseason honor

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 21, 2010 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Coming off a runner-up campaign on the Conference Carolinas baseball scene, Mount Olive has been tabbed the preseason favorite for 2010.

"Ain't that something? Unbelievable," said Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster.

MOC received four of nine first-place votes and 58 points in league balloting. Erskine, which returns three preseason All-Americans, garnered three first-place votes and two points less than the Trojans.

Defending league and Southeast Regional champion Belmont Abbey picked up two first-place votes and 47 points. Rounding out the nine-team poll is Pfeiffer, Barton, Anderson, Limestone, Coker and St. Andrews.

"We, as a coaching staff, are honored that we have gained the respect of our comrades in the league to put us at number one, even though we have little returning from last year," said Lancaster, whose team is ranked No. 30 in preseason polls by Collegiate Baseball and Ping! Baseball.

"I think it's based on the tradition of the program and we do a good job of bringing people in to put a pretty good product out there."

The Trojans have won eight regular-season and tournament championships since the league joined the Division II ranks in 1996. Lancaster guided his team to three consecutive crowns from 2006-08, along with the College World Series title in 2008.

Preseason All-America candidate Jesse Lancaster returns for his senior season. The Eastern Wayne grad batted .358 and scored 56 runs. Over the past two springs, he's cranked 12 home runs and successfully swiped 50 of 54 stolen bases.

First baseman Airlon Vinson, outfielder Jackson Massey, second baseman Dylan Holton and outfielder/DH Joseph Westbrook are expected to provide some offensive punch.

"We've got a whole new team and not a lot of numbers returning that would 'wow' you," said coach Lancaster. "There are several teams (in our league) who have a lot of people back. We might end up there (at number one) and that's certainly our goal.

"We'll give it our best shot."

MOC opens its season Feb. 6 with a doubleheader against in-state foe Lenoir-Rhyne. The Trojans play 31 of their first 39 games at Scarborough Field.