DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia Coll ege & State University baseball team is ranked 24th in the preseason College Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II top 40 poll released Monday afternoon.
This marks the third straight year North Georgia has been ranked in the preseason top 40 poll after being selected 21st in 2008, and 17th last season before rising to #6 in the nation the first week in March.
The Saints are one of five teams ranked in the Peach Belt Conference as USC Aiken came in at #6, followed by Francis Marion at #12, and GCSU at #27. Armstrong Atlantic and Columbus both received votes but were not ranked in the top 40.
North Georgia returns eight starting position players from a year ago, including infielder Andre Airich who was named second-team ABCA/Rawlings All-Southeast Region after earning PBC First-Team All-Conference honors and being named to the 2009 Peach Belt Conference All-Tournament team. He hit .386 during the 2009 season with 10 home runs, 63 runs batted in, and 143 total bases.
Daniel Petitti returns behind home plate after picking up his second ABCA/Rawlings All-Southeast Region Gold Glove last season. The Roswell, Ga., native committed just three errors during the 2009 season for a .992 fielding percentage. He threw out 21 base stealers, picked off 10 runners, and recorded a .563 stolen base against percentage.
Brad Hall returns for his junior season after being named to the 2009 Peach Belt All-Conference team. Hall hit .305 during the last season with 13 home runs, 11 doubles, and 55 runs batted in, and was fifth in the PBC in home runs, and had a slugging percentage of .592.
North Georgia’s 50-game slate opens February 5th, hosting Pfeiffer University for a three-game weekend series, while the regular season will wrap up in St. Augustine, Florida, taking on Flagler College for a trio of games.
North Georgia opens Peach Belt Conference action on February 27, hosting UNC Pembroke for a three-game slate, before traveling to Milledgeville, Ga., the following weekend for a trio of games against in-state rival GCSU.
Head coach Tom Cantrell enters his 11th season at the helm of the Saints in 2010, posting an overall record of 407-219 during is tenure at North Georgia.