TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As the Florida State Baseball team takes the field Friday afternoon for the first official practice of the 2013 campaign, the Atlantic Coast Conference released the baseball coaches’ preseason poll.
The Seminoles, who have claimed at least a share of the Atlantic Division title the last six years, are the coaches’ pick to finish second in the division behind league favorite NC State.
The Wolfpack was also slated as the preseason favorite to win the outright league championship receiving six votes, while North Carolina earned four votes and Florida State and Virginia one each.
NC State, which returns 2012 ACC Pitcher and Freshman of the Year Carlos Rodon, along with preseason All-America infielder Trea Turner, was named by 10 coaches as the likely Atlantic Division winner. Defending division champion Florida State and Clemson each received one first-place vote.
The Seminoles return 19 players including five position starters and nine pitchers who threw at least 15.0 innings last year. Despite losing three starting infielders, a starter in center field and one of the top closers in the nation, the Seminoles welcome back four starting pitchers in sophomores Mike Compton and Brandon Leibrandt (both named Preseason All-Americans in 2013), senior right hander Scott Sitz and junior right hander Peter Miller. Catcher Stephen McGee is also back after starting all 67 games from behind the plate a season ago.
Senior captain Justin Gonzalez will pace the Seminole offense as the top returning hitter in runs scored (42), hits (54), home runs (9) and RBI (42). Sophomore Jose Brizuela, who made a majority of his starts in left field, will move to third base in 2013, while Seth Miller and Josh Delph, who played significant innings last year, will see playing time in the outfield.
North Carolina received the nod to repeat as the Coastal Division champion. The Tar Heels received nine of the possible 12 first-place votes while totaling 69 total points (six points for each first-place vote, five for each second-place vote, etc). The Tar Heels were followed in the overall Coastal Division voting by Georgia Tech (55), while Virginia (50) placed third and Miami (39) fourth. Virginia Tech (27) placed fifth, followed by Duke (12).
Two coaches named Virginia as the likely Coastal Division winner, and defending ACC champion Georgia Tech received one vote.
NC State (69) and Florida State (60) were picked 1-2 in the overall Atlantic Division voting, followed by Clemson (50), Wake Forest (34), Maryland (22) and Boston College (17).
All 12 ACC teams open their seasons with non-conference games on Friday, Feb. 15. The 2013 ACC Baseball Championship is scheduled for May 22 through 26 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.
Twelve ACC student-athletes have been named 2013 preseason All-Americans by at least one publication, and five conference teams have been ranked among the top 25 of at least one major preseason poll.
With Florida State reaching the College World Series last season, the ACC has placed a total of 15 teams in Omaha since 2006. Seven ACC teams received NCAA Tournament berths in 2012, and at least five conference teams have been selected for postseason play each of the past 11 seasons.
The Seminoles will look to return to Omaha in 2013 when the season begins Friday, February 15 at 4:00 p.m. as Florida State hosts the University of Rhode Island for a three-game series on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Field.
2013 ACC BASEBALL COACHES PRESEASON POLL
OVERALL CHAMPION: NC State (6)
Also receiving votes: North Carolina (4), Florida State (1), Virginia (1)
Team (#), Points
NC State (10), 69
Florida State (1), 60
Clemson (1), 50
Wake Forest, 34
Boston College, 17
Team (#), Points
North Carolina (9), 69
Georgia Tech (1), 55
Virginia (2), 50
Virginia Tech, 27