MELBOURNE, Fla. – Coming into the season ranked No. 20 nationally in the Collegiate Baseball News preseason rankings, the Nova Southeastern baseball team was picked third in the Preseason Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Coaches Poll, league officials announced Thursday. The Sharks received 83 points, behind three-time defending SSC Champion Tampa (100 points, nine first-place votes) and 2018 South Regional Champion Florida Southern (90 points, two first-place votes).
Returning 24 players from last season’s team that finished 35-16 and second in the final SSC standings, Nova Southeastern closed out the 2018 season in their fourth consecutive NCAA Regional. Matching the projection, the Sharks were picked at preseason runner-up prior to last season.
Although the Sharks will feel the absence of mainstays like Jake Anchia, Andrew Liberty, Dylan Harris, Devin Conn and Joe Strzelecki, NSU is sending a lot of experience back on the field from the .318-hitting squad from a year ago. Preseason All-American right fielder Samuel Duran is back to lead this year’s club on the field, along with third baseman Ian Acevedo, outfielder Nathan Chevalier, second baseman Andrew Labosky and a boost from catching transfers Garrett Wolforth and Mike Rojas. On the mound, Kyle Kilbourne provides experience for the Sharks in his final campaign, along with classmate Gilberto Torres and transfer JP Williams on the staff.
“One of the things we need to do is continue to build on what we did offensively, but revamp the pitching staff,” said head coach Greg Brown, heading into his ninth year looking for his seventh postseason appearance with the Sharks. “If we can build from there, we’ll hopefully progress into title contention. You look at what happens early, when we play our opening tournament with Tusculum and Catawba, as well as playing an early conference series with Barry, and then going on the road in the cold weather and playing North Greenville as well as Lander. These are all good challenges for us to grow, and when we get into the heart of SSC play to hopefully be a better club than when we start. Obviously, our goal is to get into the Regional and that’s going to lead to that.”
Beyond the Sharks in the poll, Saint Leo holds in fourth place at 72 points, while Lynn rounds out the top-5 after receiving 64 points in the preseason ranking. Palm Beach Atlantic and Rollins tied for sixth at 47 points and were followed in the voting by Florida Tech (34 points), Eckerd (24 points), Barry (23 points), and Embry-Riddle (22 points).
Below are the full results of the 2019 SSC Preseason Coaches Poll. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their teams (points: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses).
|2019 SSC Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll|
|Rank||School (FPV)||Total Points|
|2||Florida Southern (2)||90|
|T6||Palm Beach Atlantic||47|
The Sharks open up the 2019 campaign in the confines of the NSU Baseball Complex with back-to-back dates against Tusculum and Catawba, Feb. 1-2.