Valentine’s Day may mean flowers, candy, and dinner with someone special. But in the world of college baseball, it means only one thing, the start of the baseball season. There are two conferences that are followed by this notes column. The Atlantic Coast Conference and America East. Like the rest of college baseball, these two leagues will get underway with non-conference action starting on Friday. We though, a look at the two leagues would give you some idea of what is in store this spring.
In America East, the pre-season favorite is the Binghamton Bearcats. In the coaches poll that recently came out, the Bearcats lead the conference with 33 points and four first-place votes. Only two other schools received first-place votes, the defending champs the Stony Brook Seawolves, with 30 points and two first-place votes, and the Hartford Hawks with 25 points and one first-place vote. This may be important to keep in mind since four of the past five champions have won the regular-season title before going on to win the post-season crown and getting a chance at making a run to Omaha and the College World Series.
Also returning will be fourteen of last spring’s All-Conference selections headlined by a couple of standouts. Joe Kruszka from Albany is Preseason All-America by Collegiate baseball. In 2019, the senior right-handed pitcher led his team with a 2.16 ERA. He finished with ten saves last season which led both the team and the conference in 41 innings pitched. He also struck out 51 hitters which ranked first among all Great Danes relief pitchers. Stony Brook will be boosted by the return of Chris Hamilton, last season’s Most Outstanding Player. All Hamilton did was hit .325 with eight home runs and 42 RBI and finishing in the top-ten in all three of those stats. He was fifth in hits with 65 and fifth in doubles with 16. Hamilton was tied for first in sacrifice flies with six. The top six finishers will be at the America East Baseball Championship in Lowell, MA. on May 20-23.
In the Atlantic Coast Conference, everything centers around the pre-season number one ranked team, the Louisville Cardinals. They are coming off a 51-18 season a year ago which included a deep run in Omaha. The Cardinals return a strong group that is ready and able to make another run at a national championship. As expected, they were picked to win the Atlantic division of the ACC with 97 total points. Thirteen of the head coaches chose Louisville to win the division. Clemson got the other first-place vote. In the Coastal division, Miami was the top pick by twelve of the head coaches. North Carolina and defending division champs Georgia Tech each got a first-place vote. The Hurricanes tallied 92 total votes.
Nine different teams in the ACC have been named to at least one major poll leading up to the start of the 2020 season including eight that were named to the NCBW ranking that came out earlier this year. Louisville, which begins its season on the road vs Ole Miss, has been selected number one in three major polls and is ranked among the nation’s top two in every publication. Miami is ranked among the top ten in every major poll and got as high as number three in D1 Baseball. The 15-game ACC baseball championship will take place on May 19-24 in Charlotte, North Carolina.