Griffin’s group projected to finish fifth in SAC preseason poll

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

ROCK HILL, S.C. – In the 2018 edition of the South Atlantic Conference preseason coaches' poll, Carson-Newman was slotted for a tie for fifth with Mars Hill after finishing the regular season seventh a season ago.

"We have all of fall to figure out what to do," Carson-Newman baseball coach Tom Griffin stated. "Baseball and the spring sports we have to time to learn the system and learn what the expectations are. Since early September until now, they should know what the expectations are."

Carson-Newman is coming off of a 29-24 season that saw the team work its magic in the SAC Championships for a second straight year. The Eagles won a single-elimination game against Coker before advancing to championship Monday as the No. 7 seed falling 9-4 to Lincoln Memorial in the title game.

The program matched its highest win total at home during the Division II era (since 1994) going 22-6 at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.

Griffin is looking to replace one of the largest senior classes of his tenure of 15 players. Holes were left across the board offensively at with returning every day players in the field at third base and left field. Only 35 percent of the team's at-bats are back from a season ago.

Of the squad's 55 home runs, 19 were hit by players on the 2018 roster. Two of the top five run producers are back from a year ago in Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) and preseason first-team All-SAC pick Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Tenn.).

Among the players that graduated, catcher Greg Jones signed a contract with the Colorado Rockies after leading the team in dingers with 13 and RBIs with 58. Paul Kirby was an Academic All-American at first base with 53 RBIs and Ryan Addington produced the eighth-highest batting average since 1994 with a .393 clip.

The Eagles graduated four senior pitchers but return just shy of 70 percent of the team's innings thrown led by the team's top arm a year ago, preseason second-team All-SAC selection Will Gardner (Morristown, Tenn.).

With depth returning on the mound, C-N should expect a similar effort in the late innings as 2017 when the team was 22-1 when leading after six innings of play.

"That's a huge advantage to have," Griffin assessed. "There is a maturity factor there that happens physically and mentally that they should be better now than they were last year. That is a strength that we have seen up to this point is the depth that have in pitching. I think the leadership we've had with the pitching department."

The five-time reigning regular-season titleholders, Catawba, was once again picked to win the league with nine of the 10 first-place votes holding off the tournament champs, Lincoln Memorial for the top spot.

Newberry edged out Tusculum by one point for third in the poll. Wingate, Coker, Lenoir-Rhyne and Anderson made up the bottom quartet of the preseason poll.

The 2018 campaign begins for C-N on Feb. 2 with a road trip to Limestone for a 4 p.m. first pitch. Conference play kicks off on Feb. 23 with a road trip to Newberry for a three-game series. Every game can be heard on with live video available for home games on the Eagle Sports Network.


Team (First-Place Votes)



Catawba (9)



Lincoln Memorial (1)












Mars Hill














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