Coastal Carolina welcomes Kansas State, California, Western Kentucky, Pacific and N.C. State to Myrtle Beach for the annual Baseball at the Beach Tournament.
Coastal is 3-1 after the first week but will have to play much better if they hope to have any success this weekend.
Here is a brief look at the visitors.
The Wildcats were 37-22 last year and finished third in the Big 12 Conference. They return six position players and all three weekend starting pitchers.
The offensive playbook for Kansas State should look familiar to Chanticleer fans: Get on base and be aggressive. They led the Big 12 last year in batting average, on-base percentage, hit-by-pitches and steals.
If the Wildcats get a lead, they can turn it over to James Allen to close things out. He is on the watch list for the Stopper of the Year award according to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. The Wildcats were 28-1 last year when leading after seven innings.
Speaking of closers, Brad Hill is the Wildcat Head Coach. His .714 career winning percentage is sixth in the nation among active coaches. He is 183-13 when his Cats have the lead after seven innings.
The lead story this year on California is that this is their last year of college baseball. That is a sad story for the 17th ranked Golden Bears. This is especially so for the freshman class who were rated number 11 in recruiting by Baseball America. Budget problems are hard on everyone, but it is hard to comprehend how a major university like California could let the baseball program fold.
The Bears went to the Norman Regional last year. They return four starting position players and their entire starting rotation. Actually, they bring back three All-PAC-10 first team players and three conference honorable mentions.
The Bear offense is led by catcher Chadd Krist. Last year he hit .344 with 15 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 44 RBI.
California is 2-0 coming off a weekend against Utah. Notes from that series include RHP Erik Johnson going seven innings in game 1. He pitched a shutout while allowing three hits, no runs, no walks and eight strikeouts. In game 2 LHP Justin Jones also went seven innings giving up eight hits, five runs, one walk and five strikeouts.
It was also interesting that the Bears won game 2 in walk off style. Freshman Andrew Knapp pinch- hit an RBI single.
Western Kentucky University
Don’t be fooled by the Hilltoppers 2010 record of 35-23 (16-14 in the Sun Belt Conference). They should be much better this year. They return 19 lettermen including three Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference players.
The WKU offense is led by preseason conference players Matt Rice and Kes Carter.
Rice batted .369 and had 10 home runs and 65 RBI last year. He was also a Johnny Bench Award semi-finalist.
Carter had a .341 batting average and knocked home 53 RBI. He can steal and he can field. Last year he was 14 out of 17 attempts. He also had a .993 fielding percentage which translates to one error.
WKU also has a preseason candidate for the 2011 Stopper of the Year Award in Rye Davis. Last year he was second in the Sun Belt with nine saves. He also struck out 63 in 49 and 2/3 innings.
For the second straight weekend, Coastal will face another ACC school. The Chanticleers take on the Wolfpack Sunday at BB&T Coastal Field.
Like most ACC teams, State travels well. These two teams played last year. What I remember most about the game was a lot of red in the stands and the game seemed much closer than the 6-3 final. I bet the Wolfpack will remember that as well. Hopefully Coastal fans will come out in force.
N.C. State is 1-2 coming off a home and away series with Elon. Pratt Maynard leads the high powered Wolfpack offense with a four game hit streak. They scored 17 runs in their season opener. Look for other power hitters in Harold Riggins, 12 home runs and 44 RBI last year and Andrew Ciencin who put up 11 home runs, 4 grand slams and 77 RBI.
I’m not sure what to expect on the mound. The starting rotation last weekend consisted of Corey Mazzoni (1-0), Josh Easley (0-1) and Grant Sasser (0-1). We may see freshman LHP D.J. Thomas on the hill. It’s still early and I’m sure that Head Coach Elliott Avent is still working out the kinks.
With patience and discipline, the Chanticleer bats should come alive during this game.