Chants open 40th season with new home, high hopes

The Coastal Carolina baseball program will open its 40th season of baseball with a three-game series versus James Madison this weekend, kicking off a campaign that will see the Chanticleers have a new home field and plenty of high hopes for another championship season.

Game one of the series will be played on Friday (Feb. 15) in Florence on the campus of Francis Marion at Sparrow Stadium (4700 East Palmetto Street). First pitch is set for 1 pm and the game is part this year’s CCU baseball season ticket package.

Coastal Carolina junior right-hander Tyler Herb will be the opening-day pitcher for the second consecutive year. Last year, Herb threw seven innings and allowed one run as the Chants claimed a 7-1 win over James Madison. JMU will counter with right-hander Patrick Toohers.

Game two of the series is set for Saturday (Feb. 16) and will be played at Myrtle Beach’s Pelicans Ballpark – which will serve as the home field for Coastal Carolina baseball this season. Pelicans Ballpark is a key staging area for Saturday’s Myrtle Beach Marathon. Fans are encouraged to park across the street at Broadway at the Beach. Saturday’s matchup will feature CCU sophomore left-hander Ben Smith facing right-hander Michael Howerton.

Game three of the series is set for Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 2:15 pm. Prior to the first pitch, the Coastal Carolina Department of Athletics will present the 2012 Chanticleers their championship rings for claiming Big South regular-season and tournament titles for the sixth consecutive year. Redshirt freshman Tyler Poole (RHP) will make his college debut after missing 2012 due to an injury. The Dukes have yet to determine their Sunday starter.

In anticipation of the start of the 2013 season, Baseball America released its annual college preview edition. The publication picks Coastal to win the Big South and has an early prediction of the Chants traveling to Raleigh, N.C., as the #2 seed at the North Carolina State Regional, joining East Carolina and UNC Wilmington. Coastal will host preseason #8 NC State on March 3 in the finale of the Caravelle Resort’s Baseball at the Beach and play UNC Wilmington twice, traveling to Wilmington March 13 and hosting the Seahawks on May 14.

Other games of interest for the Chants include a date with preseason #1 North Carolina (April 16), hosting preseason #11 Kentucky (Feb. 23), a three-game set at preseason #16 Georgia Tech and hosting preseason #25 San Diego on Feb. 28 in the first game of the Caravelle Resort’s Baseball at the Beach. CCU opponents Elon, Indiana and College of Charleston are also included in the Baseball America’s projected field of 64 for the NCAA Regional.

Individuals to note this years on Coastal’s schedule include preseason first team All-Americans Colin Moran (3B, North Carolina), Trea Turner (SS, NC State), Kris Bryant (DH, San Diego) and Carlos Rodon (LHP, NC State); preseason second team All-Americans Austin Cousino (OF, Kentucky), Daniel Palka (DH, Georgia Tech); as well as project top 15 draft pick Kris Bryant (3B, San Diego), preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Michael O’Neill (OF, Michgan), preseason Colonial Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Matt Batts (UNC Wilmington) and Southern Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year David Whitehead (Elon).

In the Big South, Jacob May is the publication’s preseason Player of the Year as well as the top pro prospect in the league. Aaron Burke, the reigning Big South Pitcher of the Year, is picked to repeat the honor in 2013 by Baseball America. Herb and Ted Blackman join May on the list of top 10 pro prospects ranking fifth and sixth, respectively; and freshman pitcher Alex Cunningham (Duncan, S.C.) is listed third on the top newcomers list.

All three games will be available on GameTracker and can be heard on GoCCUSports.com. Friday and Sunday’s games will additionally be broadcast locally on 100.3 FM The Team.

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