ROCK HILL, S.C. – On the eve of the 2019 baseball season, sophomore outfielder Chandler Castleberry and junior first baseman Dillon Carpenter have earned Preseason First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference honors, while the Trojans have been picked to finish eighth in the South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced by the league office on Tuesday.
Castleberry was named SAC Freshman of the Year at the conclusion of last season after starting all 54 games for the Trojans and claiming second-team all-conference accolades. He was fourth in the conference with a school-record 16 home runs last season, including a grand slam at North Greenville in early March.
The Waxhaw, N.C., native ranked in the top-20 in the conference in seven statistical categories and was seventh on the team with a .284 batting average. Castleberry led the team in home runs and drove in a team-high 58 runs, while tying for the team lead with a .578 slugging percentage. He tied for second on the squad with 12 doubles and was second with 35 walks on the season. The right-handed slugger posted 18 multiple-hit games and 17 multiple-RBI games, while reached base safely during a 21-game stretch during the season, including a 10-game hitting streak during February and early March.
Carpenter captured preseason first-team recognition after claiming Second-Team All-SAC honors at the conclusion of last season. A native of Charlotte, N.C., Carpenter drew a starting nod in 51 games, including 50 at first base. He was second on the team and 18th in the conference with a .345 batting average and stood third in the SAC with 55 RBI, 10th in the league with 70 hits, 13th in the SAC with nine home runs, 14th with 13 doubles, 18th with a .542 slugging percentage and 21st with 27 walks.
Carpenter led the team with 22 multiple-hit games, with his stellar season including 11 multiple-RBI games and a 10-game hitting streak that stretched from late March into early April. He posted monster statistics late in the season, including a seventh-inning grand slam in a 14-8 win over Young Harris in early April and he belted two homers and drove in seven runs in an 18-7 win over Mars Hill in mid-April.
The duo helped lead AU to within a win of reaching the SAC Tournament Championship game after the Trojans entered the postseason as the No. 8 seed. The Trojans posted a 25-29 overall record, which marked the sixth-highest win total in school history (NCAA Division II era) and the most wins in a season since the 2003 edition of Trojan baseball claimed an NCAA D-II era school-record 31 victories.
The Catawba College Indians have been picked as the preseason favorite for the seventh consecutive season, after receiving eight first place votes from the conference's head baseball coaches and 108 total points. Reigning SAC Tournament Champions, Lincoln Memorial, was voted in at No. 2 with 97 total points and three first place votes, while Wingate earned the No. 3 spot with 93 points.
Carson-Newman placed fourth in the poll with 78 points, followed by Newberry at No. 5 with 70 points and Lenoir-Rhyne at No. 6 with 68 points.
Tusculum earned the No. 7 slot with 65 points, while Anderson earned 47 points in eighth and Mars Hill placed ninth with 36 points. Rounding out the preseason poll were Coker at No. 10 with 30 points and first-year program Queens at No. 11 with 23 points.
The South Atlantic Conference baseball season gets underway on Friday, Feb. 1. The 2019 Pilot Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship is slated for April 25-29 at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tenn.
Anderson will play host to King, Saturday, Feb. 2 in the 2019 season-opening doubleheader as part of a four-game homestand to open the campaign. First-pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Admission is free to Trojan baseball games.
2019 SAC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Team (1st-place votes) Points
1. Catawba (8) 108
2. Lincoln Memorial (3) 97
3. Wingate 73
4. Carson-Newman 72
5. Newberry 58
6. Lenoir-Rhyne 58
7. Tusculum 48
8. Anderson 40
9. Mars Hill 34
10. Coker 30
11. Queens 23
2019 Preseason All-Conference First Team
OF – Danton Hyman, Newberry
OF – Chandler Castleberry, Anderson
OF – Jarel McDade, Tusculum
1B – Dillon Carpenter, Anderson
2B – Daulton Martin, Tusculum
SS – Colin Allman, Newberry
3B – Jackson Raper, Catawba
C – Matt Honeycutt, Mars Hill
DH – Heath Mitchem, Catawba
SP – Ethan Elliott, Lincoln Memorial
SP – John Grigg, Lenoir-Rhyne
SP – Austin Turgeon, Wingate
RP – DJ Laxton, Catawba
2019 Preseason All-Conference Second Team
OF – Seth Hunt, Lincoln Memorial
OF – Will Reddick, Lincoln Memorial
OF – Tanner Lane, Newberry
1B – Alex Reynolds, Lenoir-Rhyne
2B – McCann Mellett, Wingate
SS – Tyler Adams, Lincoln Memorial
3B – Tyler Schneider, Wingate
C – Ethan Goforth, Carson-Newman
SP – Joe Bobiak, Lincoln Memorial
SP – Charles Hall, Tusculum
SP – Ryan Harbin, Newberry
RP – Charlie Fessler, Newberry