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December 31, 2007

Conference Previews: Big South

MORE: Rivals.com Countdown to First Pitch

Coastal Carolina and the Big South took a step forward last season.

After compiling one of the most impressive regular season resumes, Coastal earned a Regional host.

While the Chants lead the charge, Winthrop hopes to continue its successful ways without key cogs Alex Wilson and Phil Carey.

Virginia Military should contend for an NCAA Tournament berth, while Liberty is in much better shape with Jim Toman at the helm.

We preview the Big South.

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN
BIG SOUTH
After putting together one of the most impressive regular season campaigns last season, Coastal Carolina enters 2008 with its sights set on the College World Series. The Chanticleers are without a few key players from last year's team, but do return offensive leaders Tommy Baldridge and David Sappelt. Additionally, pitching staff ace Bobby Gagg and reliever David Anderson are back in the mix While Coastal Carolina looks forward to the upcoming season, Winthrop might have a different attitude. As the Eagles' head coach, Joe Hudak has experienced a wealth of success. However, he is very much looking forward to the new transfer rule, which goes into action in the spring. The Eagles are without Alex Wilson, Phil Carey, Jason Franzblau and Jayson Hernandez. Even with an injury sidelining him this season, Wilson transferred to Texas A&M. Teammate Phil Carey, who hit .325 last season, also made the move to College Station to play for the Aggies. Additionally, Franzblau transferred to Arizona State while Hernandez ended up at Rutgers In the surprise category, Virginia Military should contend for an NCAA Tournament berth. The Keydets welcome back outstanding pitchers Michael Bowman and Trey Barham, among others While VMI hopes to rise to the occasion, Liberty is looking for a successful first season with new coach Jim Toman at the helm. The Flames could contend for a postseason berth.
Rivals.com predicted order of finish
1. Coastal Carolina
2. Virginia Military
3. Liberty
4. Winthrop
5. High Point
6. UNC Asheville
7. Radford
8. Charleston Southern


Preseason All-Conference team
1B. Randy Schwartz, High Point
2B. Kenneth Negron, Liberty
3B. Alex Gregory, Radford
SS. Alfie Wheeler, High Point
OF. Tommy Baldridge, Coastal Carolina
OF. David Sappelt, Coastal Carolina
OF. Garrett Young, Liberty
C. John Murrian, Winthrop
SP. Bobby Gagg, Coastal Carolina
SP. Michael Bowman, Virginia Military
SP. Trey Barham, Virginia Military
RP. David Anderson, Coastal Carolina
DH. David Giammaresi, Liberty

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at rogersk@yahoo-inc.com.