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2008 PRESEASON FAB 40: #31-40
January 31, 2007

SCS.comWith the start of the college baseball season only a few weeks away, preparations for the upcoming season are kicking into full gear. While some teams come into the season ranked in the preseason Top 25, other squads see themselves just outside the Top 25. But the situation for these teams is simple. If players who aren’t expected to contribute much step up and become key parts of their teams and big time players contribute like they’re expected, then these teams will have a serious impact on the landscape of the 2008 season. These are the teams that are ranked 31-40 in our preseason poll after a tally of the staff.

SCS.com31. Louisiana-Lafayette

A veteran Ragin’ Cajuns team returns for Tony Robichaux this year, led offensively by outfielder Nolan Gisclair and designated hitter Scott Hawkins. On the mound, Danny Farquhar, Hunter Moody, and Brent Solich lead a pitching staff that should be very solid for the Sun Belt conference squad.

The Ragin’ Cajuns should be the class of the Sun Belt conference this season. With an experienced team returning, hosting a regional isn’t out of the question for Louisiana-Lafayette. Look for this team to enter the Top 25 and stay in it if they play up to expectations.

SCS.com32. LSU

In Paul Maineri’s first year, the Tigers were a competitive and scrappy team but failed to make it to the SEC Tournament. This year, LSU is expected to be much better with a top 5 recruiting class coming in. Returning stars for the Tigers is pitcher Jared Bradford and outfielder Blake Dean, both of whom should have a big impact on the team.

The Tigers will be a much better team this year with a core of experienced players returning plus a great recruiting class coming into Baton Rouge. Look for LSU to be in the hunt in the SEC West and return to Hoover for the SEC Tournament and more importantly, return to the NCAA Tournament this season.

SCS.com33. Coastal Carolina

The Chanticleers seem to get a postseason #1 seed every year nowadays under head coach Gary Gilmore. This season should be no different, as Coastal Carolina returns key members of last year’s team. Tommy Baldridge and David Sappelt lead the Chanticleers offensively while ace Bobby Gagg heads the rotation.

Gilmore’s team should win the Big South this season with a strong core of players from last year’s team returning, although a few exceptional players from last year have graduated or have gone to professional baseball. The question this year is if Coastal can get another #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

SCS.com34. Southern Miss

Corky Palmer’s Golden Eagle program is one of the more consistent in the southeast. This season, Southern Miss should have another solid and competitive ball club. The pitching staff is the strength of the team, led by Barry Bowden, David Clark, and Todd McInnis. Trey Sutton, the USM first baseman, is the best hitter on the squad.

The Golden Eagles this year should field a consistent and tough-to-beat team. They should contend in the top half of the Conference USA, and advance to the NCAA Tournament this season.

SCS.com35. UC Riverside

Picked to finish 5th in the Big West by the coaches, the Highlanders should contend in the top half of the conference. At the plate, Joey Gonzales and Aaron Wible lead the Riverside squad while Joe Kelly leads the Highlanders on the mound.

With the loss of their two best starting pitchers from last year’s team, finding strength at the top of the rotation will be key for Riverside this year. The Highlanders should be good offensively, and should be a #2 or #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament this season.

SCS.com36. Nebraska

Coming off a disappointing season in which the Cornhuskers finished 32-27, Mike Anderson’s team is looking to rebound this season. Pitcher Johnny Dorn is on the Wallace Award watch list, and should be the ace of the staff on this year’s squad. Jeff Tezak and Craig Corriston lead the Nebraska offense.

The question with this year’s team will be if they can develop a few power hitters after they hit only 33 homeruns last season. If the Cornhuskers can find a few power sources and maintain pitching depth, they should compete in the Big 12 and probably play in the NCAA postseason.

SCS.com37. Southern Illinois

The Salukis are the definition of a scrappy team. With only 16 homeruns hit by the whole team last year, SIU still found success. This season, the Salukis have three players to build around, pitchers Cody Adams and Bryant George and catcher Mark Kelly-all of whom are on the Wallace Award watch list.

SIU should again be a very scrappy and fundamentally sound ball club. They should compete in the top half of the Missouri Valley Conference, and if they play to their ability, make the NCAA Tournament.

SCS.com38. Stetson

The Hatters were a very good team in 2007, finishing 42-21 with a 21-6 record in the Atlantic Sun conference. This year, Robbie Elsemiller, one of the better closers in college baseball, should help a pitching staff that lost its two best starters on last year’s team.

The Hatters should be one of the better teams in the Atlantic Sun this year, if not the best. Returning to the NCAA Tournament is a very strong possibility for the Hatters this year.

SCS.com39. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles made the NCAA Tournament last year, and return a good team this year. Jerry Sullivan anchors the ORU staff while Brendan Duffy and Brian Van Kirk lead the Golden Eagles at the plate.

ORU should again win the Mid-Con and compete for a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

SCS.com40. Georgia

After making it to Omaha, Georgia had a terrible season last year, finishing under .500 and failing to make the NCAA Tournament. This season, Georgia could be the surprise in the SEC. The weekend pitching staff of Stephen Dodson, Nathan Moreau, and Trevor Holder returns, and it should be better this year. Shortstop Gordon Beckham is the best hitter for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs should compete in the SEC, although not with the likes of Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina. None the less, Georgia should be much better this season, and should return to the SEC and NCAA Tournaments.

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