Coastal, Burke selected to repeat as Big South’s best

Coastal Carolina, champion of each of the last six Big South regular season and tournament titles, was a unanimous pick to win the league’s newly-formed South Division this year as determined by a poll of the conference head coaches.

Also, 2012 Big South co-Pitcher of the Year, Coastal’s Aaron Burke, was a near unanimous pick to repeat the honor in 2013. Liberty was picked as the preseason favorite to win the Big South North Division, while Campbell’s Michael Felton and Radford’s Jeff Kemp were selected as the Big South Preseason co-Players of the Year.

With a record 12 members in 2013, the Big South will have divisional play in baseball for the first time in Conference history.

Coastal Carolina received all 12 first-place votes and 72 points. Gardner-Webb placed second with 48 points, ahead of Charleston Southern who picked up 42 points. In fourth was Winthrop with 36 points and in the No. 5 slot was UNC Asheville with 28 points. Presbyterian College closed out the voting for the South Division with 26 points.

The Flames received seven top votes and 67 points to take the top spot, followed by Campbell who notched one top bid and 55 points. High Point’s four No. 1 votes and 53 points rounded out the top three in the North Division. Radford found itself at the No. 4 spot with 39 points, while VMI finished fifth with 22 points. New Big South member Longwood rounded out the list for the North Division with 16 Points.

A 2013 Preseason second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, Burke was a near unanimous selection for the preseason honor as he tallied 11 of the 12 available votes for the top spot. Ryan Mattes of Campbell (one first-place vote) and VMI’s John Garrett tied for second in the voting with three points each.

Burke, a senior right-handed pitcher from Shawnee, Kan., was named Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball second team All-American after leading the league in ERA (1.58) and wins (10), ranking 22nd and fifth in the NCAA, respectively. Burke also tied for the league lead in appearances (35 with teammate Ryan Connolly) and finished fifth in the league in saves with seven

Coastal Carolina will open the 2013 season with a three-game series versus James Madison starting Feb. 15. The game on Feb. 15 (Friday) will be played at Francis Marion’s Sparrow Stadium in Florence with the remaining two games (Feb. 16 and 17) being played at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, which will serve as the home for Chanticleer baseball for the 2013 season. Coastal will open league play Mar. 22-24 with a three-game series versus Gardner-Webb,

The 2013 Big South Baseball Championship is slated for Tuesday, May 21-15 at the Liberty Baseball stadium in Lynchburg, Va.

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