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Furman Picked Sixth, Seventh In SoCon Preseason Polls, Two Paladins Honored

Brett Harker
Brett Harker

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman's baseball team has been picked sixth in a preseason poll of Southern Conference media and seventh by league head coaches, it was announced today by the league.

In addition, two Paladins — senior starting pitcher Nik Verbeke and senior outfielder Jabari Richards — were named second team preseason All-SoCon.

Samford, the defending SoCon Touranment champion, was a consensus No. 1 choice in both polls followed by UNCG and Mercer.  The two polls parted company the rest of the way with Furman picked sixth by the media and seventh by the conference's nine head coaches.

Verbeke, a 6-foot-3 right-hander from Cumming, Ga., posted a 5-5 record with a 4.50 ERA in his role as Furman's Friday night starter a year ago.  A Fayetteville, Ga., native, Richards hit .255 with six home runs and 31 RBI in 2018 over 45 starts.

Third-year head coach Brett Harker welcomes the return of 17 lettermen off last year's squad that posted a 24-28 record and seventh place Southern Conference finish.

The Paladins open the 2019 season next Friday when they play host to Morehead State in 5:00 p.m. game at Latham Stadium on campus.

2019 Preseason SoCon Media Poll:
1) Samford (11)              123
2) UNCG (1)                    107
3) Mercer (2)                    98
4) Wofford                        83
5) ETSU                            64
6) FURMAN                       49
7) Western Carolina        46
8) VMI                              32
9) The Citadel                  28

2019 Preseason SoCon Coaches Poll
1) Samford (7)                 63
2) UNCG (2)                     55
3) Mercer                         52
4) ETSU                           35
5) Wofford                       33
6) Western Carolina        31
7) FURMAN                       24
8 )The Citadel                  22
9) VMI                                9

2019 Preseason All-Southern Conference
Preseason Player of the Year
Caleb Webster, Jr. UNCG

Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Sam Strickland, So., SAM

First Team
SP     Dylan Spence, The Citadel 
SP     Sam Strickland, Samford
RP     Nick Spear, Mercer
C       Anthony Mulrine, Samford 
1B     Brooks Carlson, Samford 
2B     Austin Embler, UNCG
SS     RJ Yeager, Mercer
3B     Caleb Webster, UNCG
OF     Jeffrey Brown, The Citadel
OF     David Beam, ETSU
OF     Colin Davis, Wofford
DH    Le Bassett, Mercer

Second Team
SP     Nik Verbeke, Furman
SP     Austin Higginbotham, Wofford
RP     Anthony Garcia, Wofford
C       Bryce Leasure, The Citadel
1B     Jacob Huggins, VMI
2B     Cullen Smith, ETSU
SS     Branden Fryman, Samford
3B     Justice Bigbie, Western Carolina
OF     Jabari Richards, Furman
OF     Matthew Koehler, Western Carolina
OF     Kel Johnson, Mercer
DH    Lawson Hill, Wofford