Sun Belt Baseball Tournament to showcase nationally ranked players and teams

Blue Raiders to host May 26-29 at Reese Smith Jr. Field

May 18, 2010 · MT Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Sun Belt Conference baseball is among the best in the country, currently ranked No. 5 among all Division I leagues, and the top teams will be in Murfreesboro next week to compete for the right to represent the SBC in the NCAA Tournament.

Middle Tennessee will be the host team in the double-elimination Sun Belt Conference Championships scheduled May 26-29 at Reese Smith Jr. Field on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

The eight-team shoot-out will feature some of the top players and teams in the nation, as the Sun Belt boasts national leaders in both categories.

League-leading Florida Atlantic features dual-threat Andy Mee, who is eighth in the nation in hits with 86, but also has recorded 11 saves on the mound, good for seventh nationally. FAU's Dan Scheffler, who is batting .393, ranks 14th in slugging percentage and 22nd in on-base percentage. Mike Albaladejo has 14 sacrifice bunts, good for 14th place nationally.

Louisiana and South Alabama are tied for fourth in the SBC standings, and with good reason. The Ragin' Cajuns have pitcher Zach Osborne, who is 8-3 with an ERA of 2.48 and is 23rd in the nation in strikeouts with 96. The ULL staff is seventh nationally in both ERA and walks allowed per nine innings.

South Alabama is led by Jake Overstreet, whose 68 RBI are good for 10th in the nation, and he is on track to break former Jaguar Luis Gonzalez's single-season record of 80 RBI set in 1980. Pitcher D. D. Hanks ranks sixth nationally with nine wins and leads the Jaguar staff with a 4.00 ERA. As a team the Jags are 23rd in stolen bases.

Middle Tennessee is also highly ranked in several categories. The Blue Raiders rank 15th in double plays, 18th in home runs and 20th in hits. Individually, Justin Miller is ranked third in home runs with 20 and 16th in RBI with 72 while Ryan Ford is fourth in sacrifice bunts with 16.

"I have said all along that the Sun Belt is one of the strongest baseball conferences in the nation, and the RPI's and stats back me up on this," Blue Raider head coach Steve Peterson said. "The Sun Belt is stronger this year than it has ever been, and we could very well get as many as four teams in the NCAA tournament when all is said and done."

Western Kentucky has earned several high rankings. As a team, Western is 11th in triples, 20th in fielding percentage, 21st in runs and 23rd in walks allowed per nine innings. Individually, Matt Payton is third nationally in triples, Matt Rice is 19th in hits and Matt Ridings is 21st in wins with nine.

Florida International is sixth in the nation in sacrifice flies, led by Mike Martinez with six. FIU sophomore Garrett Wittels is currently on a 45-game hitting streak which is a school record as well as a Sun Belt Conference record.

Troy reliever Chase Whitley has the 12th-best ERA in the country at 2.08, and is eighth in hits allowed per nine innings.

Tournament action will begin on Wednesday, May 26 and run through Saturday, May 29 with four games per day until Saturday when the championship game will be played. Prior to the start of tournament play, the Sun Belt Conference along with Middle Tennessee will host Family Night which is free and open to the public. Festivities will include an awards ceremony, home run derby, fireworks and autographs. Gates to Reese Smith Jr. Field will open at 6:30 with festivities beginning at 7 p.m.

Visit Sun Belt Championships Central on goblueraiders.com for complete information on tickets, game times, and updated brackets for the 2010 Sun Belt Championships.

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