Breaking down Southern Conference baseball

June 28, 2014 

Breaking down Southern Conference baseball

Scouting report

As with the conference in football, Southern Conference baseball coaches shed few tears that some programs bolted.

Losing Georgia Southern, Elon and College of Charleston certainly weakened the conference, just as Georgia Southern and Appalachian State’s absence drastically softens the conference’s football reputation.

In the past decade, eight regular-season champs or co-champs came from now-gone programs. In that same span, six tournament champions (Georgia Southern three times, Elon twice and College of Charleston once) are elsewhere.

Western Carolina is the happiest of the returning group. The Catamounts are tied with The Citadel among remaining programs with 13 regular-season titles, but only three this century, including one shared. Next is Furman with four.

The Citadel has the best facility, city-owned Joseph P. Riley Park, a 6,000-seat stadium built in 1997 that it shares with the RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League.

Mercer will pretty much assume the mantel of top program in the conference, just about the same position it had in the stronger A-Sun.

Unfortunately for Mercer, it’ll also take the smallest overall facility and the one in most need of completely replacing -- except for the field itself, which is one of the best in the country -- from one conference to the next.

East Tennessee and VMI are the other newcomers.

ETSU has a quality new facility, and VMI’s Gray-Minor Stadium -- a unique setup -- went through notable upgrades in 2003.

The Bucs established some success in recent years in the A-Sun, winning the 2013 tournament and going deep in 2010 and 2006 with a subpar field, and they’ll be an immediate boost.

The Keydets don’t add much, having had three straight winning seasons only once -- 30-25, 34-21, 29-26 a decade ago -- and only three 30-win seasons in history.

Mercer and Western Carolina are likely to lead the conference, but ETSU and Samford appear headed in the right direction.

A look at the programs Mercer, East Tennessee State and VMI will join in the Southern Conference on Tuesday:

The Citadel

Stadium/capacity: Joseph C. Riley Park/6,000

Conference championships: 13

Conference tournament championships: 8 (last in 2010)

NCAA appearances: 13 (13-24, last in 2010)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

24-34 8-18

35-25 18-12

25-33 13-17

20-36 8-22

43-22 24-6

37-22 20-10

28-28 12-15

34-27 12-15

34-27 15-12

25-34 14-16

Furman

Stadium/capacity: Latham Stadium/2,000

Conference championships: 4

Conference tournament championships: 2 (last in 2005)

NCAA appearances: 5 (5-10, last in 2005)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

26-33 11-15

32-25 14-16

28-31 13-17

24-33 13-16

19-37 11-19

24-31 10-10

33-24 17-10

19-36 11-16

32-23 16-11

30-29 13-16

Samford

Stadium/capacity: Joe Lee Griffin Field/2,000

Conference championships: 0

Conference tournament championships: 1 (2012)

NCAA appearances: 1 (2-2, 2012)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

35-25 15-12

27-30 12-17

41-23 19-11

37-23 18-12

31-25 17-12

17-35 9-21

33-23 19-7 *

32-28 14-13 *

35-25 21-6 *

20-36 13-14 *

* in Ohio Valley Conference

UNC Greensboro

Stadium/capacity: UNCG Baseball Stadium/3,500

Conference championships: 1

Conference tournament championships: 0

NCAA appearances: 2 (3-4, last in 1997)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

21-28 8-16

24-31 11-19

25-27 10-20

34-20 22-8

20-33 7-23

20-29 7-21

33-27 15-12

30-30 14-13

26-33 13-14

31-22 17-13

Western Carolina

Stadium/capacity: Hennon Stadium/1,500

Conference championships: 13

Conference tournament championships: 9 (last in 2003)

NCAA appearances: 11 (13-22, last in 2007)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

37-18 20-6

39-20 23-7

32-24 16-14

23-31 12-18

37-21 16-13

35-22 19-10

29-28 14-13

42-20 20-7

33-27 14-13

33-23 18-12

Wofford

Stadium/capacity: Russell C. King Stadium/1,000

Conference championships: 0

Conference tournament championships: 1 (2007)

NCAA appearances: 1 (0-2, 2007)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

32-28 12-14

20-36 10-20

22-32 9-21

22-33 9-21

17-38 9-21

17-32 7-22

24-35 6-21

20-33 8-19

20-37 5-22

17-37 7-23

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