CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Junior Josh Greene was named the Big South Preseason Player of the Year and the High Point University baseball team was picked fourth in the Big South Preseason Poll, the league announced on Thursday.
Greene received four first-place votes and 19 points to finish just ahead of Campbell’s Cole Hallum. The junior outfielder is the first HPU player to be named Preseason Player of the Year. Greene is a two-time All-Big South honoree and last season he led the Panthers with a .355 batting average, 37 RBI, seven home runs, 13 steals, a .441 on-base percentage and a .532 slugging percentage. Greene ranked fifth in the Big South in batting, fourth in on-base percentage, sixth in slugging and 11th in homers. In 24 conference games in 2015, he finished in the league’s Top 10 for batting (.395), runs (17) and RBI (23).
“We are excited and proud that Josh Greene has been named the Preseason Player of the Year by the Big South,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “This is a testament to his talent, his work ethic and his overall ability on the baseball field. Josh has worked extremely hard during his time here and I believe he will lead us to an exciting season in 2016.”
High Point received 83 total points in the preseason coaches poll, placing the team fourth behind Coastal Carolina, Winthrop and Liberty. Coastal was the near-unanimous selection to win the Big South crown in 2016, as the Chants received 10 of the 11 first-place votes and finished with 120 out of a possible 121 total points. Winthrop was second in the preseason poll with 102 points – its highest position in the preseason ranking since being picked the favorite in 2007. Liberty was picked third with 99 points. Defending Big South Champion Radford was picked fifth with 81 points while Campbell landed in the sixth spot with 74 points. Charleston Southern was slotted into the seventh position with 52 points and Longwood garnered 40 points in eighth-place. Presbyterian College (ninth, 31 points), Gardner-Webb (10th, 23 points) and UNC Asheville (11th, 21 points) rounded out the preseason poll.
High Point brings back 19 letter winners, including four position starters and 11 pitchers, from a team that finished 29-26 in 2015. It was the third-straight season that High Point has finished .500 or better, a feat the program had achieved just once in the previous 13 seasons in Div. I. Greene is one of four position starters that return along with junior Chris Clare and sophomores Carson Jackson and Hunter Lee. Redshirt-senior Scot Hoffman and junior Andre Scrubb will lead a Panther pitching staff that brings back 11 players from 2015. The team also welcomes in 12 newcomers comprised of nine freshmen and three junior-college transfers.
2016 Big South Preseason Poll
Team (First-Place Votes) – Points
Coastal Carolina (10) – 120
Winthrop – 102
Liberty – 99
High Point – 83
Radford – 81
Campbell (1) – 74
Charleston Southern – 52
Longwood – 40
Presbyterian College – 31
Gardner-Webb – 23
UNC Asheville – 21