Griffin’s group tabbed to finish fourth in SAC

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Carson-Newman was picked to finish one slot lower than its third place finish from 2018 as the South Atlantic Conference released its preseason coaches' poll Tuesday showing the Eagles sitting in fourth.

"Our strength right now has been our chemistry," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "I think the chemistry is good but no lineup has been made yet. Our upper class leadership has been fantastic. One of the reasons is that they have been with us for a long time and they buy into the culture.

"We have some depth especially offensively. Defense has really been a strong suit so far. Pitching wise, we feel we have a wide array of different type pitchers. The biggest question is who is going to be those starting guys to give us five or six innings. We feel like we have a staff behind them that can do the job in short relief.

Coach Tom Griffin's club went 28-22 overall but posted a 16-11 mark in conference play last season. The team's run in the SAC Baseball Championships came to halt against top-seeded Catawba one game shy of advancing back to the conference championship series.

Three of the team's all-league honorees from 2018 graduated including two Major League Baseball draft selections. Brett Langhorne was selected in the 10th round by the Atlanta Braves and Will Gardner heard his name called in the 21st round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It marked the fourth time in the history of the school that Carson-Newman has had two players selected in the same draft class. Carson-Newman was one of three schools in Division II to produce multiple draft selections through 21 rounds of this year's draft – all have two. Tampa and Nova Southeastern are the other two.

The only member of the elite class was first-team All-SAC pick and Academic All-American Dillon Cate, the unit's Friday starter. The Eagles are one of eight schools to have a member of the All-American groups each of the last two seasons.

In the field, six starters return from last year's club but the two top run producers graduated in Langhorne and Cade Snapp. Seven of the top 10 at-bat leaders return while 66 percent of the club's hits are back in the lineup (306/463).

Feasting on right-handed pitching where the team went 24-9 against righty starters compared to 4-13 against southpaws, C-N was 27-10 when scoring at least five runs.

Three of the top four pitchers in terms of innings are on the roster and 63 percent of the pitching staff's frames throw factor into this year's rotation. The mound could help decide the majority of the season as the Eagles were 17-3 when yielding four runs or fewer compared to 11-19 when conceding at least five.

"Everything that we do," Griffin said. "From our stretching to our throwing program. The fundamentals of the game and doing it the correct way. At this point, you could just do your bands and get it over with. You can get through to get through it. What is our intent and focus on each drill? If we can maintain that focus, then it's easier to maintain focus in a doubleheader."

The six-time reigning regular-season titleholders, Catawba, was once again picked to win the league earning eight of the 11 first-place votes. The Indians were shut out of the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2013.

Lincoln Memorial earned the league's postseason crown with a thrilling comeback 11-inning contest in a winner-take-all affair at Smokies Stadium to earn three first-place votes and be slotted second. The Railsplitters won their first game in the NCAA Tournament before dropping two straight to be eliminated.

Wingate was picked third after sneaking into the postseason despite losing six in-a-row to end the year including both in the league tournament and both in the regionals.

Newberry, Lenoir-Rhyne and Tusculum were picked fifth through seventh while a sizeable gap between the bottom of the table, Anderson, Mars Hill, Coker and first-year member Queens.

The 2019 campaign begins for C-N on Feb. 1 with a road trip to Limestone for a 4 p.m. first pitch in the first of a four-game set. Every game can be heard on with live video available for home games on the Eagle Sports Network.



Points (1st Place)



108 (8)


Lincoln Memorial

97 (3)




















Mars Hill








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