01/21/12 — MOC baseball team picked 2nd in Conference Carolinas preseason poll

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MOC baseball team picked 2nd in Conference Carolinas preseason poll

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 21, 2012 11:07 PM

Two-time defending Conference Carolinas regular-season and tournament champ Mount Olive is destined to finish second this season, according to the league's preseason baseball poll.

Despite receiving five first-place votes, the Trojans finished one point (59-58) behind Limestone, which drew three first-place nods.

The Saints, who last won a Conference Carolinas regular-season crown in 2005, return five pitchers, including junior Cam Ward (9-2 in 2011). University of Indiana transfer Josh Lyon moves behind the plate, taking over for Joe Maloney, who is now in the Texas Rangers' organization.

Ranked No. 5 in the ABCA Division II preseason top 40 poll, Mount Olive returns an untested pitching staff and three infielders -- preseason All-American pick Jacob Rogers (third base), Daniel Coffey (first base) and Nick Gaeta (catcher/DH). Antonio Callaway returns in the outfield.

Rogers also earned 2012 ABCA/Rawlings Division II preseason all-Southeast Region recognition. Callaway was listed among the "players to watch" and JUCO transfer Geno Escalante is among "newcomers to watch."

MOC has claimed nine Conference Carolinas regular-season titles and 10 tournament crowns since moving to Division II in the mid-1990s.

Belmont Abbey, the 2009 Carolinas champion, was selected third. Erskine and league newcomer North Greenville (S.C.) University complete the top five.