ANDERSON, S.C. – After wrapping up the regular season with 11 victories in its last 17 games, including series wins over three consecutive conference opponents, the Anderson University baseball team is set for its second appearance in four seasons at the Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship.
The five-day tournament will be played at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tenn. and will get underway on Thursday. Thursday's games will be single elimination, while the double-elimination portion of the Championship will be played Friday – Monday.
Eighth-seeded Anderson (22-27, 12-15 SAC) has already posted the most wins in a season since joining the SAC in 2011 and the most since the 2007 and 2009 squads each notched 23 victories.
As the sixth seed in the 2015 postseason event, AU knocked off Brevard before falling to top-seeded Catawba and Wingate and will be looking to duplicate its first-round success again on Thursday against No. 5 seed Lenoir-Rhyne.
Sophomore Dillon Carpenter was named to the All-SAC Second Team after leading the team and ranking 12th in the SAC with a .357 batting average and tying for third in the conference with 53 RBI, alongside teammate Chandler Castleberry. The Charlotte, N.C., native also ranks 17th in the league with a .577 slugging percentage and posted a 10-game hitting streak from late March through early April, while leading the team with 20 multiple-hit games.
Castleberry became the first Trojan to earn SAC Freshman of the Year accolades since AU joined the league in 2011, while batting .286 and starting all 49 games for the Black and Gold. A native of Waxhaw, N.C., Castleberry is tied for third in the league with 53 RBI and is tied for fourth in the SAC with 15 home runs on the season. He also ranks fifth in the SAC with 34 walks and 16th with a .588 slugging percentage. Castleberry boasted a 10-game hitting streak and reached base safely during a 21-game stretch during the season.
Senior Tyler Miller captured Honorable Mention All-SAC recognition for the second straight season after notching a .342 batting average and ranking ninth in the conference with 66 hits. The T.L. Hanna High School product recorded 12 doubles and is 16th in the SAC with a team-high nine stolen bases on the season and has yet to be thrown out on the base paths. Miller enters the postseason on a 12-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 42 straight games. He also earned Gold Clove honors for his stellar defensive play at shortstop.
Sophomore Matthew Overton is fourth on the team with a .319 batting average and leads the SAC with 50 walks on the season and ranks eighth with a dozen home runs, while driving in 41 runs. Junior Jackson Strange posted a team-high 14-game hitting streak during the season and is batting .305 entering the tournament.
Sophomores Christian Carpenter and Austin Todd, along with junior Will Gee, lead the pitching staff with four wins apiece, while Carpenter paces the squad with 21 appearances out of the bullpen. Sophomore Brent Reynolds is 2-0 with a 3.62 ERA in 15 appearances, including five starts on the mound. Junior Matthew Stanley leads the squad and ranks third in the league with five saves.
No. 1 Seed Catawba (27-21, 19-8 SAC)
The Catawba Indians, who were tabbed to win the league's regular-season title in the South Atlantic Preseason Coaches' Poll, captured their sixth-straight SAC Regular Season Championship with a 2-1 series win over Wingate last Saturday. With the crown, Catawba earned the No. 1 seed after finishing the season with a 19-8 league record.
THE SERIES VS. THE INDIANS
The Trojans and Indians have met 36 times since the 2001 season, with Catawba holding a 27-9 advantage in the all-time series. The Indians had won 16 consecutive matchups until AU claimed an 11-9 win in last year's series finale. The Indians claimed two-of-three at Memorial Stadium in late March.
No. 2 Seed Wingate (34-15, 17-10 SAC)
Wingate earned the No. 2 seed with a 17-10 record in SAC play. The Bulldogs were picked to finish seventh in the SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, after posting a 19-31 overall record last season, including a 10-14 mark in conference play and an eighth-place finish in the league.
THE SERIES VS. THE BULLDOGS
The Trojans and Bulldogs have met 24 times since the 2007 season, with Wingate holding a 16-8 advantage in the all-time series. The Bulldogs had won four straight in the series, but AU took two-of-three from Wingate, which was tied for the league lead at the time, in early April at Memorial Stadium.
No. 3 Seed Carson-Newman (27-20, 16-11 SAC)
Carson-Newman received the No. 3 seed with a 16-11 record in conference after being selected to finish tied for fifth with Mars Hill in the South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll after posting a 29-24 overall record a year ago and finishing seventh in the conference standings.
THE SERIES VS. THE EAGLES
The Trojans and Eagles have met 35 times since the 2001 season, with Carson-Newman leading the all-time series, 27-8. C-N swept the season series in Jefferson City, Tenn., in mid-March.
No. 4 Seed Lincoln Memorial (31-18, 15-12 SAC)
Lincoln Memorial picked up the No. 4 seed with a SAC record of 15-12. The Railsplitters were tabbed to finish second, behind Catawba in the Preseason Coaches' Poll, after posting a 35-19 overall record last season, including an 18-6 mark and a second-place finish in conference play. The 35 wins were the second-most wins in program history and the Railsplitters won the 2017 SAC Tournament.
THE SERIES VS. THE RAILSPLITTERS
The Trojans and Railsplitters have met 24 times since the 2009 season, with Lincoln Memorial holding a 13-11 advantage in the all-time series. The two teams have combined to score 159 runs in the last nine contests.
No. 5 Seed Lenoir-Rhyne (27-21, 13-14 SAC)
Lenoir-Rhyne, Newberry and Tusculum each finished conference play with records of 13-14. Each team was had a record of 3-3 versus the other two, so a tiebreaker was used to determine the seeding. Lenoir-Rhyne earned the No. 5 seed, while Newberry took the No. 6 seed and Tusculum earned the No. 7 seed.
Lenoir-Rhyne was tabbed to finish ninth, just ahead of the Trojans, in the South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll after posting a 22-26 overall record a year ago and finishing 10th with a 6-18 mark in conference play.
THE SERIES VS. THE BEARS
The Trojans and Bears have met 25 times since the 2009 season, with Lenoir-Rhyne holding an 18-7 advantage in the all-time series. L-R has won eight of the last 10 matchups, including 2-of-3 in late February at Memorial Stadium.
No. 6 Seed Newberry (25-22, 13-14 SAC)
The Wolves claimed the sixth seed after the tiebreaker was used. Newberry was picked to finish third in the South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll after a third-place finish in the standings a season ago at 16-8 in league play.
THE SERIES VS. THE WOLVES
Anderson and Newberry have squared off on 52 occasions, with the Wolves holding a 30-22 advantage in the all-time series. The Trojans claimed two wins over the Wolves last weekend at Memorial Stadium.
No. 7 Seed Tusculum (23-25, 13-14 SAC)
Tusculum captured the seventh seed following the tiebreaker after being tabbed to finish fourth in the SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Pioneers posted a 30-20 overall record a year ago and finished fifth with a 14-10 mark in conference play.
THE SERIES VS. THE PIONEERS
The Trojans and Pioneers have met 34 times since the 1998 season, with Tusculum leading the all-time series, 22-12. AU won the first nine meetings between the two programs from 1998-2009, but the Pioneers have won 20 of the last 22 matchups - including the last eight.
2018 Pilot/Flying J SAC Baseball Championship
Thursday, April 26 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
#5 Lenoir-Rhyne vs. #8 Anderson, 4:30 p.m.
#6 Newberry vs. #7 Tusculum, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 27 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
#1 Catawba vs. lowest seed from GM 1 & 2, Noon
#2 Wingate vs. highest seed from GM 1 & 2, 3:45 p.m.
#3 Carson-Newman vs. #4 Lincoln Memorial, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 28 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
GM 3 loser vs. GM 4 loser, Noon
GM 3 winner vs. GM 5 loser, 3:45 p.m.
GM 4 winner vs. GM 5 winner,7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 29 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
GM 7 winner vs. GM 8 winner, Noon
GM 6 winner vs. GM 8 loser, 3:45 p.m.
GM 10 winner vs. GM 9 loser, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, April 30 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
GM 9 winner vs. GM 11 winner, 1:00 p.m.
if necessary, 4 p.m.