Coastal Carolina’s baseball team received a couple gifts for the 2019 season with junior slugger Zach Biermann going undrafted, and signed recruit Garrett McDaniels confirming he will attend CCU despite being selected Wednesday in the Major League Baseball Draft.
Biermann said Wednesday he plans to return to the team for his senior season, and McDaniels, a highly-regarded lefthanded pitcher from Pee Dee Academy in Mullins, told The Sun News in a Twitter message that he plans to attend CCU.
Biermann, a left-handed hitting first baseman and designated hitter, joined CCU from Polk State College in Florida this past season and had 64 hits in 58 games with 13 home runs, 14 doubles, a triple, 57 RBI and 57 runs scored.
The West Bend, Wis., native was at his best in the postseason, knocking in 18 runs in CCU’s seven combined Sun Belt Conference Championship and NCAA Conway Regional games while raising his batting average 18 points to .302 after the regular season. Biermann was named the Sun Belt tournament MVP.
“This year was a big growing year for me,” Biermann said. “I had a lot of stuff on and off the field that I needed to get in order. [CCU head] coach Gilmore and the coaching staff, coach [Drew Thomas], and off the field Coach [Gilmore] . . . really helped me out. Most of all my teammates were just amazing, these seniors. I’d never been a part of a group of guys that cared more about their teammates than these guys. Coming in here, we talk about family a lot, and it’s real. It’s here and it’s amazing.”
Biermann’s return is particularly important because the Chants lost graduates Seth Lancaster and Kevin Woodall Jr., who were first and second in the Sun Belt Conference with 20 and 19 home runs, respectively. Following Biermann’s 13 homers, the fourth highest total on the team was freshman Parker Chavers’ seven.
“A guy like Zach Biermann, if he comes back we’re a different team next year," Gilmore said. "You wipe those three or four guys completely out of the middle of the order, what college team can absorb that all at once?”
McDaniels was selected by the Miami Marlins in the 30th round with the 897th overall pick. The 6-2, 170-pounder has a fastball that is generally between 86 and 92 mph with sink from a three-quarter arm slot, according to MLB.com, as well as a good curveball and a changeup. He helped Pee Dee win back-to-back SCISA Class 2A state championships and was ranked among the top 100 draft prospects by MLB.com.
Coastal will only lose one potential returning player to the draft in starting pitcher Jason Bilous, and in addition to incoming recruits, the Chants are expected to get the services back of quality pitchers Bobby Holmes, Austin Kitchen and Scott Kobos, who were all lost for all or most of the year with injuries.
“If we . . . hang onto our pitchers we’ve got coming in, where we can be pitching, defense and get back to small ball and stealing bases, maybe we hit half the home runs we hit and learn to play different again,” Gilmore said.
Coastal centerfielder Parker Chavers was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball magazine.
Chavers posted a team-best .323 batting average while ranking second on the team in hits (70), second in on-base percentage (.435), third in doubles (15), fourth in home runs (7), fourth in runs scored (48) and fourth in walks (39).
He was in the top 10 in the Sun Belt Conference in batting average, hits, on-base percentage and walks. Additionally, Chavers made just one error and numerous highlight-reel catches, including one that was featured on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays.
The Montgomery, Ala., native was voted Second Team All-Sun Belt and to the Sun Belt and NCAA Conway Regional All-Tournament teams. He is the 12th CCU Freshman All-American and 11th since 2007.
Football camp set
CCU alumnus and Denver Broncos running back De’Angelo Henderson has confirmed July 7 as the date for his free football camp at Coastal’s Brooks Stadium for children ages 5-14. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and the camp is from 9 a.m. to noon.
He is also hosting a free cookout in his hometown of Summerville from 3-9 p.m. on July 4 at Doty Park. The event will include food, drinks, autographed photos, jumping castles, games, fireworks and music from DJ Dejay.
Football times set
In conjunction with ESPN, SEC Network and the Sun Belt Conference, Coastal Carolina announced the start times for its first three football games of the 2018 season.
The Chants open the season at noon on Sept. 1 at South Carolina and the game will be broadcast on SEC Network. CCU will host Alabama-Birmingham at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 and Campbell at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15 in games that will be televised by ESPN+ and ESPN3, respectively.
A pair of first year Chanticleers received two of the league's top individual men's golf honors as Coastal Carolina's Jim Garren was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year and first-year player Morgan Deneen was named Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year.
In addition, Deneen was voted First Team All-Sun Belt, Luis Ruiz was named second team and Thadd Obecny II was tabbed third team. Steven Fisk of Georgia Southern was the conference’s Men’s Golfer of the Year.
Deneen, who walked onto the team as a senior, won the Sun Belt individual title with a conference tournament-record 203 for 54 holes that included a 63, and finished the season with a 73.0 scoring average, five top 20s, six rounds in the 60's and 14 rounds of par or better.
The Chants won the Sun Belt team title and their team per-round scoring average of 289.81 ranks as the third-best in school history.
Former Coastal Carolina softball standout Kelsey Dominik was selected in the inaugural American Softball Association (ASBA) Draft on Wednesday night, becoming the third Chanticleer in program history to be drafted to play professional softball.
She was taken by the Future 1s with the fourth pick of the third round, 12th overall. In two years at CCU in 2015-16, Dominik was 33-20 on the mound with a 4.34 earned-run average, and batted .265 in 321 at-bats with 27 home runs. She was told after the draft she will be used at multiple positions.
The ASBA joins National Pro Fastpitch as pro softball leagues. The 2018 ASBA season will run from June 15 through the end of July. The league’s four teams are Moh-BEEL! USA, Outkast, E1 Pro Ballers and Future 1s. All games will be played in Mobile, Ala., and the championship is July 27-31.
Sara Graziano ('94) is the only CCU alumnus to play pro softball. She was a 1999 Women's Pro Softball League All-Star for the Tampa Bay Firestix, and also spent time with the women's baseball team the Colorado Silver Bullets in their inaugural season of 1994.