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January 23, 2007

2007 Atlantic Sun Preview

Projected Order of Finish
1 Jacksonville
2 Stetson
3 Mercer
4 North Florida
5 East Tennessee State
6 Kennesaw State
7 Belmont
8 Gardner-Webb
9 Lipscomb
10 Campbell
All-Conference Team
First Team Second team
1B Mike Armstrong, MU 1B Jimmy Glanville, NF
2B Ryan Hamme, Cam 2B Chad Knight, NF
3B Derek Wiley, Bel 3B Thomas LePage, JU
SS Matt Lopez, JU SS Billy Shaughnesy, MU
C Josh Thompson, MU C Brandon Diaz, NF
OF Wilson Tucker, Bel OF Mike McCallister, JU
OF Shane Jordan, St OF Brandon Scott, Cam
OF Pete Clifford, JU OF Daniel Cook, GW
3B Matt Dallas, KSU 1B Carlo Testa, Bel
SP Matt Dobbins, JU OF C.J. Lee, ETSU
SP Brantley New, MU SP Josh Moffitt, Bel
SP Brad Johnson, NF SP Chris Ingoglia, St
SP Corey Kluber, St SP D.J. Ackley, JU
RP Robbie Elsemiller, St SP Blake Quarles, MU
RP Chris Manning, Bel RP Matt Davis, JU
Defending champion Jacksonville is the choice to repeat as Atlantic Sun regular season champions. The Dolphins edged Stetson and Mercer for the preseason nod in what figures to be a competitive race.

The Dolphins placed seven players on the thirty man all-Atlantic Sun squad. Mercer and Belmont each had five players on the team.

Stories to Watch

The balance of power: The Atlantic Sun has lost some quality programs like Troy, Central Florida, and Florida Atlantic in the past two seasons. Help is on the way as Florida Gulf Coast and South Carolina Upstate join the conference next season. An interesting storyline will be how the league's Regional bid status is affected? Will the league continue to pull in two-to-three bids each season or will that decrease?

Ace High: The A-Sun has a nice crop of Friday night firepower. From last season's conference pitcher of the year Matt Dobbins of Jacksonville to Mercer's Brantley New, to Stetson's Corey Kluber and North Florida's Brad Johnson, the top teams will be hard to handle in game one each weekend.

Late change at Campbell: January 10th is a tough time to change head coaches. That is the obstacle Campbell is facing after the resignation of eleven-year coach Chip Smith. Chris Wiley takes over in an interim role for the Camels, who went 19-38 last season.

Road to the Title

March 16-18 Stetson at North Florida
March 23-25 Mercer at Stetson
March 30-April 1 Jacksonville at Mercer
April 20-22 Mercer at North Florida
April 20-22 Stetson at Jacksonville *
May 4-6 North Florida at Jacksonville
* A-Sun series of the year

The List

Toughest non-conference schedules
1. Stetson: Has series with Southern Ilinois, LSU, and Louisville and games against Notre Dame, Nebraska, South Florida, Florida, and UCF.

2. North Florida: Plays in Coastal Carolina's tournament facing Virginia, Elon, and the host team. They visit Tulane for three games and also face teams like Florida State, Ohio State, South Florida, Florida Atlantic, Miami, and Florida.

3. Mercer: The Bears open with a series at Miami and also face Bethune Cookman, Samford, and South Alabama in weekend series.

Best Offenses
1. Jacksonville
2. Mercer
3. Stetson

Best Pitching
1. Jacksonville
2. Stetson
3. Mercer

Best Facility

Best Prospects (draft-eligible)
1. Corey Kluber, Stetson, RHP, JR
2. Brantley New, Mercer, RHP, SR
3. Matt Dobbins, Jacksonville, RHP, JR
4. Josh Thompson, Mercer, C, SR
5. Michael McCallister, Jacksonville, OF, SR

Top Newcomers
1. Cory Gearrin, RHP, Mercer, JR
2. Kevin Johnson, SS, Stetson, FR
3. Ryan McArdle, 1B, Jacksonville, SR
4. Mychal Jones, SS, North Florida, FR
5. Nick Pugliese, RHP, Stetson, JR


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