AUGUSTA, GA – For only the second time in Peach Belt Conference history, two teams are tied atop the baseball preseason coaches poll. Georgia College and UNC Pembroke both received 88 points in the 2018 poll, which was released on Friday. The only other tie in the coaches poll happened in 2015 between Lander and Columbus State. Georgia College received four first-place votes while UNC Pembroke nabbed three, however both finished the voting with 88 points, ahead of North Georgia in third with 77 and USC Aiken in fourth with 76. Columbus State was fifth with Flagler sixth and Lander seventh. Augusta, Francis Marion, Georgia Southwestern and Young Harris rounded out the voting.
Georgia College sits atop the poll for the third time in team history and first since 2011. The Bobcats won the 2017 PBC Tournament and made their fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last five years. The Bobcats were an offensive juggernaut, hitting .358, leading the country in that category as well as doubles per game (2.52). Back is All-American third baseman Cal Gentry as well as All-Region outfielder Logan Mattix and All-PBC honorees Wesley Wommack and Brandon Purcell.
UNC Pembroke makes their first-ever appearance atop the PBC coaches poll. The Braves reached the PBC Tournament championship game a year ago and finished the season with a 41-17 overall record and second trip to the NCAA Tournament. UNCP returns five position starters and six pitchers from last year's team. Among the returners are All-Conference first-baseman Ethan Baucom, All-Conference infielder Jarratt Mobley, All-Conference senior outfielder Roberto Rivera and All-Conference senior pitcher Anthony Burke.
North Georgia made its first-ever trip to the NCAA World Series in 2017 after winning their second PBC regular-season championship in the last three years. The Nighthawks were 46-12 overall and 19-5 in league play and ranked #1 in the nation on March 20. The 2018 team returns four seniors and six juniors including first-team All-Conference pitcher Steven Bower, second-team designated hitter Bill LeRoy and second-team pitcher Daniel McCrary.
USC Aiken made its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five years in 2017 after finishing second in the league standings with a 17-7 conference record. The Pacers were 40-15 overall, winning 40 or more games for the third time in the last five years. Nationally-ranked every week of the 2017 season, USC Aiken returns nine seniors to the field. Among the returners are senior first-team All-Conference catcher Brian Parreira.
The 2018 coaches poll is listed below. Teams were given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine for second and so on. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.
2018 PBC Baseball
Preseason Coaches Poll