In a vote of the Southern Conference's 11 coaches and media members, Georgia Southern's baseball team was picked first in the SoCon Preseason Media Poll and second in the SoCon Preseason Coaches Poll on Wednesday. The Eagles also swept the preseason pitcher and player of the year awards.
GSU received 20 first-place votes in the media poll after finishing in a tie for third place last season. The Eagles were picked second in the coaches poll behind College of Charleston after winning the 2011 SoCon Tournament title.
In the Preseason Coaches Poll, GSU was voted first by four of the coaches and finished a point behind first-place selection College of Charleston.
Three Eagles were selected to the Coaches Preseason All-Conference First Team, including Preseason Pitcher of the Year Chris Beck and Preseason Player of the Year Victor Roache.
Joining the two juniors on the first team was Eric Phillips, who was picked as the first team's shortstop.
Beck led the Southern Conference in wins with nine, struck out a league-best 109 batters and pitched a complete-game shutout on two days' rest to earn the Eagles the 2011 SoCon Tournament title. The Jefferson native went 9-5 with a 3.23 ERA in 19 starts last year. The junior pitcher spent his summer playing in the Cape Cod League and was named the second-best Cape Cod prospect after a trip to the All-Star game. Beck was selected earlier in the preseason as a Louisville Slugger TPX Preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball.
Roache hit .326/.438/.778 with an NCAA-best 30 home runs. The junior outfielder had a breakout season last year which didn't end with the Columbia Regional. The Ypsilanti, Mich., native was a participant in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game and the College Baseball Home Run Derby. He also was named a Preseason First Team Louisville Slugger TPX Preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball, and a First Team Preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Phillips led the team in batting average and on-base percentage in 2011, and was selected to the SoCon Coaches and Media All-Conference First Team at shortstop. The junior hit .390 in 62 starts and tallied a team-best 98 hits. Phillips also was second on the team with a .518 slugging percentage and was named to the SoCon All-Tournament team last year.
The 2012 season kicks off at J.I. Clements Stadium on at 6 p.m. Feb. 17th against UT Martin. The SoCon slate will open March 9 at Elon, and the home schedule will begin the next weekend with UNC Greensboro on March 16.
GSU will host College of Charleston and Samford, who were both voted in the top-four of the conference, along with Western Carolina and Appalachian State.
The 2012 SoCon Tournament returns to Greenville, S.C., at Flour Field, where the Eagles won the 2009 tournament, on May 23-27.