AUGUSTA, Ga. – USC Aiken was picked to finish fourth and Augusta State was picked to finish seventh in the first-ever Peach Belt Conference preseason poll, released Thursday afternoon by the league office.
The Jaguars, who return just two position players and must replace their top five pitchers, received 30 points and are picked to finish ahead of UNC Pembroke, Lander and Georgia Southwestern.
Columbus State earned six of a possible nine first-place votes and the preseason nod to win the league. The Cougars finished with 77 points, 13 ahead of second-place Georgia College & State. North Georgia was selected third and USC Aiken fourth, while Francis Marion and Armstrong Atlantic State were picked right in front of ASU.
CSU is coming off an appearance in the College World Series championship game and is ranked No. 2 in the nation to begin the 2008 campaign. The Cougars return their entire outfield from last year, including All-Conference slugger Rodney Rutherford who led the PBC with 14 home runs a year ago.
ASU opens its 2008 season next weekend when it hosts Carson-Newman in a three-game series at Lake Olmstead Stadium. The Jaguars and Eagles make their season debuts on Friday, Feb. 1 at 2:00 p.m. and meet in a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 12 noon.
2008 Peach Belt Conference Baseball Preseason Poll
1. Columbus State
3. North Georgia
4. USC AIKEN
5. Francis Marion
6. Armstrong Atlantic St.
7. AUGUSTA STATE
8. UNC Pembroke
10. Georgia Southwestern