CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( – The Presbyterian College baseball team was picked by league's coaches in the Big South's Preseason Poll, its highest ever preseason ranking, it was announced today by the conference office.  The coaches voted Liberty junior outfielder D.J. Artis (Greensboro, N.C.) the Conference’s Preseason Player of the Year and Winthrop junior Nate Pawelczyk (Pompano Beach, Fla.) the league’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

The Eagles, last year’s regular-season champion, received six first-place votes and 95 total points to win the league in 2018.  WU is coming off a 34-24 season in 2017 and won the Big South with a 17-7 conference mark.  Winthrop, which is ranked No. 28 nationally in the 2018 Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll, welcomes back seven overall starters, 11 position players and 11 pitchers this season.

Liberty received two first-place votes and was second in the preseason poll with 81 points -- its highest position in the preseason ranking since being voted the favorite in 2015.  High Point was picked third with 77 points (one first-place vote), just ahead of defending Big South champion Radford (fourth with 76 points and the remaining first-place vote).  Campbell was fifth with 55 points, with Presbyterian College in the sixth spot with 47 points.  Gardner-Webb landed in the seventh position (36 points), Charleston Southern garnered eighth-place (35 points), followed by UNC Asheville (ninth, 26 points) and Longwood (10th, 22 points).

The 2018 Big South baseball season begins Friday, Feb. 16, while the first conference meeting is set for the weekend of March 16-18.  The 2018 Big South Baseball Championship is slated for May 22-26, and the eight-team postseason tournament will be played at the Liberty Baseball Stadium on the campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.