The Coastal Carolina baseball team was picked third in the Big South's preseason poll, released Thursday, as the Chanticleers find themselves in an unfamiliar position with lowered outside expectations.
Coming off a 24-33 finish last year that snapped the program's streak of seven-straight NCAA regional appearances, the Chants are looking return closer to their norm this spring.
But it's Liberty who the conference's coaches expect to be the team to beat.
The Flames, who won the regular-season championship last year, received 8 of 11 possible first-place votes while High Point was second and drew two first-place votes. The other first-place vote actually went to Radford, which was fifth overall in the preseason poll.
Liberty first baseman Alex Close was selected as the Big South's Preseason Player of the Year and Longwood right-hander Aaron Myers was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Close ranked second in the league in home runs (9) and RBI (46) last season while posting a .323 batting average.
Myers led all Big South starters with a 1.76 ERA last season while throwing four complete games and 107.1 total innings.
Here's the full poll:
1. Liberty (8 first-place votes), 116 points
2. High Point (2), 98
3. Coastal Carolina, 95
4. Campbell, 89
5. Radford (1), 84
6. Winthrop, 69
T7. Charleston Southern, 51
T7. Gardner-Webb, 51
9. Longwood, 32
10. Presbyterian, 28
11. UNC Asheville, 13