AUGUSTA, GA – After a deep postseason run in 2016, the USC Aiken Pacers have been selected as the team to beat as they stand atop the 2017 PBC baseball preseason coaches poll. USCA received seven first-place votes and 135 total points, putting them just ahead of second-place Columbus State. North Georgia was third with Lander fourth and Georgia College fifth. Montevallo, Flagler, UNC Pembroke, Francis Marion, Augusta, Armstrong State, Young Harris and Georgia Southwestern rounded out the voting.
USC Aiken advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Southeast Regional in 2016, finishing with a 40-18 overall mark, 20-10 in conference play. The Pacers return 15 seniors from that team including designated hitter Zach Moon and outfielder Mitchell Price, both of whom were named to the PBC preseason All-Conference team earlier this week. USCA is ranked in the Collegiate Baseball Division II poll, highest of any PBC team.
Columbus State won their first PBC regular-season championship since 2008 and their first tournament title since 2010 last season. The Cougars were 42-14 overall and 23-7 in league play and hosted the 2016 NCAA Southeast Regional tournament. Nine seniors return from that squad including first-team All-Conference starting pitcher Brandon Koehler.
North Georgia won the 2015 PBC regular-season championship and won a pair of games at the 2016 PBC Tournament. The 2017 Nighthawks return 10 seniors and graduate students including third baseman Devin Gearhart and first baseman Trevor Sams, both of whom are fifth-year seniors and named to the PBC preseason All-Conference team. UNG is ranked 27th nationally in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll.
The 2017 coaches poll is below. Teams were given 12 points for a first-place vote, 11 for second place and so on. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.
Peach Belt Conference Baseball
2017 Preseason Coaches Poll