Feb. 11, 2013
The Florida Atlantic University baseball team prepares for the first pitch of the spring season as the favorite to repeat as Sun Belt Conference (SBC) champions after topping the league's preseason poll. The Owls received five of the 10 first-place votes by league coaches.
FAU was the only school to receive multiple first-place votes. The team earned 89 points and edged FIU for the top spot with 85 points.
The Owls has also been ranked No. 1 in SBC preseason polls by Baseball America and Perfect Game.
"It is an honor that we have been picked as the preseason favorites especially in such a prestigious baseball league," said John McCormack, FAU's head baseball coach. "It does put a target on your back each weekend, if it already wasn't. It's a great honor as we are ready for the challenge."
Nelson led the conference with 35 of his 45 runs batted in coming in SBC games. The Orlando native hit .290 and tied for team-high honors with seven home runs. Nelson prepared for his senior season by being named the Most Valuable Player in last summer's Florida Summer Collegiate League's All-Star game. He also has earned preseason All-SBC honors by Perfect Game heading into this season.
Gomber went 3-4 with a 3.82 earned run average as part of FAU's weekend rotation in SBC series. The left hander made 12 starts and finished second on the team with 63 strikeouts. He had a career-high 10 strikeouts as the Owls completed a three-game sweep of FIU.
"Mark and Austin have worked extremely hard and deserve this honor," said McCormack. "Both will play a big role in the success of this year's team."
FAU opens the 2013 season on Friday, February 15 against the University of Cincinnati at the FAU Baseball Stadium, 777 Glades Road on the Boca Raton campus. The game starts a three-game weekend series against the Big East Conference opponent.
Season and individual game tickets are available by contacting the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.
SUN BELT CONFERENCE BASEBALL PRESEASON POLL
(Ranked by point totals, first-place votes in parenthesis)
1. FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY (5), 89
2. FIU, 85
3. University of South Alabama, 67
4. Troy University, 61
5. Arkansas State University (1), 60
6. Middle Tennessee State University (1), 56
7. Western Kentucky University, 42
8. University of Louisiana (1), 39
9. University of Louisiana-Monroe (1), 31
10. University of Arkansas Little Rock, 20