Feb. 11, 2011
Boca Raton, Fla. - The Florida Atlantic University baseball team will start this spring where it ended last season - atop the Sun Belt Conference - after being chosen the preseason favorite to win the league title, in a vote of league coaches announced today. Besides the team honor, three Owls' players were named to the preseason all-conference team.
FAU captured the Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship a year ago, with a 21-7 league record; advanced to the championship game of the 2010 NCAA Division I Gainesville Regional; and had a 37-23 overall record last season. The team returns eight position players and two starting pitchers from last spring, and is currently ranked No. 36th in the country by Collegiate Baseball.
These reasons are just some of why FAU Head Baseball Coach John McCormack's team received six of the 10 first-place votes and 95 total points in the Sun Belt Conference's preseason poll. The Owls edged rival FIU, with 85 points; University of Louisiana-Lafayette, with 82; Western Kentucky University, with 64; and Troy University, with 52.
"This is quite an honor, it shows what the other coaches in the league think of our team," said McCormack. "But it does put us on notice that the rest of the team in the league are watching. We have to be ready."
Individually, three seniors received preseason all-conference recognition: Andy Mee, as the top reliever and one of the outfield positions; Dan Scheffler, at first base; and Raymond Church, at second base.
Mee, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, was a preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America and Louisville Slugger Collegiate Baseball. He led the Sun Belt Conference with 11 saves last spring. Offensively, Mee tallied 99 hits and ranked among the league leaders in batting average (.378), hits (99) and runs batted in (55).
"Andy is a tremendous player that does a number of things to help us win games," said McCormack. "We are glad he is with us."
Scheffler led FAU with 15 home runs and 65 RBIs, while scoring an additional 67 runs a year ago. The West Palm Beach veteran player hit .371 at the plate and legged out 22 doubles.
"Dan is a prototypical power hitting first baseman," said McCormack. "He stabilizes our lineup and infield."
Church was named to the conference and regional all-tournament teams following last season. The West Palm Beach native served as the team's leadoff batter and helped set the offensive tone for the Owls by reaching base at a 44 percent clip. He also hit .329 at the plate, ranked third on the team with 54 runs scored and one of four players to record double-digit home runs (10).
"Raymond is our team captain and part of a great double play combination with shortstop Nick DelGuidice," noted McCormack. "He is a grinder that makes everyone better."
FAU's season opener is less than a week away, with opening night set for Friday, February 18, at 6:30 p.m. against Hofstra University at FAU Baseball Stadium, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus. This game is the first of a three-game weekend series. The team will open defense of its Sun Belt Conference championship at home on Friday, March 18 against FIU.
For tickets or more information, call 1-866-FAU-OWLS.