Tampa Picked Preseason Favorite to Win SSC Baseball Title
Tampa has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2012 Sunshine State Conference baseball championship.
The Spartans gathered 192 points and 16 first-place votes in a preseason poll conducted among the league’s baseball coaches and sports information directors.
Barry, which won the 2011 SSC baseball title, was tabbed No. 2 in the poll, followed closely by Nova Southeastern in third and Florida Southern in fourth. Barry received 158 points, while NSU tallied 146 points and one first-place vote. FSC picked up 139 points and the remaining first-place nod.
Florida Tech was predicted to finish fifth and collected 103 points. Lynn, which received 93 points, took the sixth slot.
Rollins (70), Saint Leo (47), and Eckerd (24) rounded out the poll.
Tampa will return three All-SSC starters from last year’s squad that tied for third in the conference with a 36-17 overall record and a 16-8 conference mark.
All-conference first-team left fielder Andrew Jones batted .385 with 43 RBI, 42 runs, and 15 doubles. Center fielder Damon Elder also received first-team accolades after batting .351 with 40 RBI, 42 runs, and 14 doubles. Second baseman Eric Grabe was a second-team selection, posting a .379 average with 35 RBI, 42 runs, and 15 doubles.
Barry, which finished behind UT in the poll, has alternated conference championships with the Spartans in recent years. The Bucs snapped Tampa’s three year streak from 2006-08 by taking the title to Miami Shores in 2009. UT won again in 2010, but BU regained supremacy in 2011.
A key returnee for the Buccaneers is starting pitcher Corey Witkowski, who earned All-SSC first-team honors last spring. Witkowski went 11-1 with a 1.48 ERA.
2012 SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE PRESEASON BASEBALL POLL
Rank – Team, Points (1st Place Votes)
1 – Tampa, 192 (16)
2 – Barry, 158
3 – Nova Southeastern, 146 (1)
4 – Florida Southern, 139 (1)
5 – Florida Tech, 103
6 – Lynn, 93
7 – Rollins, 70
8 – Saint Leo, 47
9 – Eckerd, 24