Baseball picked fourth in A-Sun preseason poll
Despite reaching the conference tournament championship last season, the JU baseball team has been picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference according to the 2011 preseason coaches poll.

Senior pitcher Matt Tomshaw along with sophomore outfielders Dan Gulbransen and Adam Brett Walker each represented the Dolphins on the A-Sun preseason all-conference team. ETSU senior first baseman Paul Hoilman was a unanimous selection for preseason “Player of the Year” while FGCU senior starter Richie Erath was named preseason “Pitcher of the Year."

Regular-season champion FGCU (five first place votes) and tournament champion Mercer (four first place votes) each tied for first in the poll with 112 points, while ETSU rounded out the top three with 98 points (one first place vote) followed by JU with 91 points (one first place vote). Stetson (73), Belmont (61), UNF (56), Kennesaw State (46), Lipscomb (39), Campbell (25) and USC Upstate (13) made up the rest of the poll while Mercer was selected to repeat as tournament champion.

“This is a pretty fair assessment for us based on what happened last year,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “The conference is not getting any easier and certain things need to happen in order for us to be in the mix at the end of the season. We need to stay healthy and some of our freshmen need to step up for us during the year.”

Due to injuries in the starting rotation, Tomshaw emerged as the stopper for the Dolphins en route to second team all-conference accolades last season. He led the squad with an 8-2 record (6-0 in conference play) and three complete games in 92 innings of work. With his three complete games, he became the first Dolphin to tally more than two since Dennis Robinson (7) during the 2004 season.

Gulbransen led the squad with a .391 batting average, 79 hits, 53 runs, two triples, a .498 on-base percentage and 39 walks. He also ranked fourth with 46 RBI and eight home runs. For his efforts, he earned A-Sun “Freshman of the Year” and first team all-conference accolades before taking home Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball and Ping! Walker led JU with 16 home runs, 58 RBI, a .635 slugging percentage and 121 total bases while ranking fourth with a .313 batting average. At the end of the season, he earned second team all-conference accolades before joining Gulbransen with Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball and Ping!

The Dolphins open the season with a three-game road series against UNC-Wilmington beginning on Feb. 18.