Friday, February 10, 2017

2017 Conference Baseball Previews: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Members: Northern Division: Coppin State, Delaware State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Norfolk State. Southern Division: Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, Savannah State.

Team to Beat: Florida A&M. Jamey Shouppe has quickly turned FAMU around and made the Rattlers into an annual title contender as he enters his fourth season as head coach. Powered by an offense that ranked in the top 10 in the country in several statistics, the Rattlers went 31-21 and won the MEAC’s Southern Division last season. They will have to replace several key pieces from that team, including 2016 MEAC player of the year Dylan Dillard, but with senior third baseman Ben Elizey (.388/.467/.517), the MEAC batting champion, and junior first baseman Brian Davis (.370/.471/.566, 7 HR) returning, the Rattlers’ offense will again be formidable. FAMU has steadily built up its depth on the mound and enters the spring with an experienced pitching staff. Senior lefthander JoJo Durden (2-3, 5.06) and junior righthander Ryan Anderson (4-1, 6.04) return to the rotation. The Rattlers will get a boost from junior college transfers righthander/outfielder Aubrey McCarty and righthander Hunter Fillingim. McCarty began his college career at Vanderbilt and has been a switchpitcher in the past, but will focus on pitching righthanded and playing the outfield. FAMU’s improved pitching staff should give the team more balance and ease the burden on its new-look lineup.

Player of the Year: Brian Davis, 1b, Florida A&M. Davis returns to lead the Rattlers’ offense after ranking third in the league in batting and fourth in RBIs (44) last season. The junior has a good feel for hitting and can drive the ball to all fields.


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