Furman Middle Of The Pack Pick In SoCon Preseason Polls

Brandon Elmy
Brandon Elmy

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Coming off a season that saw Furman advance to the championship game of the Southern Conference Baseball Tournament at Fluor Field, the 2018 Paladins have been picked fourth and sixth, respectively, in a pair of preseason polls conducted by league media and coaches, it was announced today.

In addition to the polls, a pair of senior Paladins, first baseman Brandon Elmy (.341, 11 HR, 49 RBI) and outfielder Landon Kay (.332, 11 HR, 37 RBI), earned 2018 Preseason All-SoCon honors with Elmy, a consensus all-league choice a year ago, landing first team accolades and Kay making the second team.

Furman, which finished 33-28 overall a year ago and 14-10 in league play following a 13-2 run over their final 15 SoCon games, returns 20 lettermen and six position starters this spring under second-year head coach Brett Harker.

Failing to gain conference preseason recognition was Paladin redshirt junior left-hander Grant Schuermann (7-4, 4.19 ERA), a SoCon All-Tournament pick and league's most dominant pitcher over the final month of the 2017 campaign — a stretch that saw him go 4-0 with a 0.71 ERA in his final five starts, including a 6-1 SoCon Tournament victory (8.0 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) over regular season champion Mercer.  The Cincinnati, Ohio, product, who out-dueled The Citadel's J.P. Sears in a 4-2 Furman victory on Apr. 29, also hurled a complete game, 92-pitch effort (9.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4K) in a 3-2 win over Samford on May 6, needing just 1:50 to complete the task.  The Paladin southpaw walked only 11 batters in 96 2/3 innings a year ago, including just one over his final seven starts.

Furman faces a challenge in replacing several outstanding performers — among them two-time All-SoCon right-handed starting pitcher Will Gaddis (9-3, 1.89 ERA in '17), the 2017 SoCon ERA leader among starters and third round draft selection of the Colorado Rockies last summer.  Also gone is spark-plug All-SoCon left-fielder Carter Grote (.332, 8 HR, 56 RBI in '17), All-SoCon Tournament center fielder Sky Overton (.336, 6 HR, 39 RBI in '17), and experienced catcher Cameron Whitehead (.312, 13 HR, 39 RBI in '17), another All-SoCon Tournament performer from a year ago.  In addition, Furman graduated Sunday starting pitcher Matthew Quarles (6-5, 5.99 ERA in '17) and solid left-handed reliever Billy Greenfield (2-1, 4.98 ERA, 3 SV in '17).

The Paladins open the 2018 season on Feb. 16 against Marist in a 4:00 p.m. game at Latham Stadium

2018 Preseason Southern Conference Coaches Poll
       Team (1st-place votes)       Points
T1)  UNCG (4)                                   58
       Mercer (3)                                  58
3)    Samford (2)                               43
T4)  ETSU                                          34
       Western Carolina                      34
6)    FURMAN                                   32
T7)  Wofford                                     28
        VMI                                           28
9      The Citadel                                 9

2018 Preseason Southern Conference Media Poll
Place    Team (1st-place votes)          Points
1)         Mercer (8)                               119
2)         UNCG  (6)                               114
3)         Samford                                    82
4)         FURMAN                                 79
5)         Western Carolina                     74
6)         Wofford                                    52
7)         ETSU                                        50
8)         VMI                                          42
9)         The Citadel                              18

2018 Preseason All-Southern Conference

Preseason Player of the Year
JT Thomas, Sr., C, Mercer

Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Josh Winder, Jr., RHP, VMI

First Team
SP    Cody Shelton, Samford
SP    Josh Winder, VMI
RP    Robert Broom, Mercer
C    JT Thomas, Mercer
1B    Brandon Elmy, Furman
2B    Austin Embler, UNCG
SS    Chris Cook, ETSU
3B    Caleb Webster, UNCG
OF    Andrew Moritz, UNCG
OF    Dillon Stewart, UNCG
OF    Matt Pita, VMI
OF    McClain Bradley, Wofford
DH    Devin Ruiz, UNCG

Second Team
SP    Ryan Simpler, ETSU
SP    Matt Frisbee, UNCG
RP    Wyatt Burns, Samford
C    Peyton Maddox, VMI
1B    Collin Fleischer, VMI
2B    Reed Massey, Wofford
SS    Tripp Shelton, UNCG
3B    Jonathan Sabo, The Citadel
OF    Aaron Maher, ETSU
OF    Landon Kay, Furman
OF    Troy Dixon, Samford
DH    Ayrton Schafer, Samford

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information