2018 @ASUNBSB Season Preview: FGCU Eagles

2018 @ASUNBSB Season Preview: FGCU Eagles

LakePoint, Ga. - With the 2018 ASUN Conference Baseball season starting on Friday, our season preview series focuses on the defending ASUN Champions FGCU, who made history last year by advancing to the programs first-ever NCAA Tournament. They look to carry that momentum over into this season and make a return appearance to the regionals. 

The Eagles were an offensive juggernaut in 2017, leading the ASUN in several offensive categories, including runs (385), hits (594), RBIs (353) and extra-base hits (175). They will have to replace their biggest bat from last year as Nick Rivera graduated after hitting 20 home runs and driving in 60 last year. Richie Garcia and Eli Lovell each hit six homers, while ASUN Tournament MVP Marc Coffers slugged five long balls in his freshman campaign. Gage Morey earned ASUN Preseason All-Conference honors after leading the team in stolen bases with 1 last year. He also was one of three Eagles' bats who had an on-base percentage of .400 or better last season. 

On the mound, the Eagles will look to some veteran arms to carry the load in 2018. Josh Dye logged 94.2 innings last season making a team-high 16 starts. He finished with an 8-5 record and struck out 73 batters compared to only 13 walks. Joining him on the Preseason All-Conference team was reliver Kenton Hering. The senior was a workhorse out of the bullpen for FGCU, pitching 59.2 innings in 30 appearances. He finished with 77 strikeouts and had an 11.61 K/9 ratio. He also finished with seven saves, the most of any returning Eagle pitcher this season. 

The Eagles will open with a seven-game homestand against Eastern Michigan and ETSU, while also playing in-state rivals Miami, Florida and South Florida. They will look to become the first ASUN Baseball team to repeat since Belmont went back-to-back in 2011-12. Last season's 43 victories were the most in the Division I-era for the Eagles as they hope to repeat that performance in 2018. 

FGCU Team Quick Facts
2017 Record:
 43-20 (13-8)
Best Single-Season Record in ASUN: 35-18; (25-8) - 2008
ASUN Championships: 2017
ASUN Regular Season Titles: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014
NCAA Appearances: 2017
Season Opener: vs. Eastern Michigan; 2/16/18 - 2 PM
ASUN Opener: vs. NJIT; 4/6/18 - 6:30 PM
ASUN Road Opener: at Jacksonville; 4/13/18 - 6:30 PM 

Coaching Staff
Head Coach:
 Dave Tollett
Career Record (Years): 533-316-3 (16th Year)
FGCU Record (Years): Same
Staff: Brandon Romans, Matt Reid, Ryan Breen, Nick Rivera, Rance Terry, Ryan Systermann

Key Returners
- Gage Morey, R-Sr., OF: A constant in the FGCU lineup, Morey started 60 games in centerfield last season for the Eagles. He posted a career-high .289 batting average and .412 OBP. He registered 24 RBIs on scored 45 runs for the Eagles, both single-season best marks for the senior. Was excellent in defense, including a highlight reel game-saving catch to give FGCU a midweek win at No. 2 Florida. 

- Richie Garcia, So., 3B/2B: The 2017 ASUN Freshman of the Year and All-Freshman Team selection returns after a brilliant opening season for the Eagles. Garcia earned Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American honors, only the fifth in program history. He set a new Division I-era program record with 37 RBIs last year, while he slashed .279/.397/.417 on the year.  

- Marc Coffers, So., OF/C: The 2017 ASUN Championship MVP was brilliant in the postseason as he slashed .500/.593/.650 in six tournament games to propel the Eagles to their first-ever ASUN Championship title. He made 46 starts and 48 total appearances last season and hit five homers while driving in 22 RBI. Closed the season strong as all five of his homers came against ASUN competition. 

Top Returning Pitchers 
- Josh Dye, R-Jr., LHP: After coming off elbow surgery, Dye excelled for the Eagles with a team-high 16 starts and eight wins. He finished the season with 94.2 innings pitched and had an ERA of 3.23. He posted 76 strikeouts and only allowed 13 walks. His eight wins were the second-most in the ASUN, only trailing Stetson's Logan Gilbert (10-1). 

- Kenton Hering, R-Sr., RHP: A 2017 ASUN All-Tournament Team selection, Hering was a workhorse out of the bullpen for FGCU in 2017. He led the ASUN with 30 appearances and pitched a single-season career-high 59.2 innings. He finished with a 1.96 ERA and struck out an impressive 77 batters in those 59.2 IP. Finished the season with seven saves, including saving the NCAA Regional contest against Michigan with 2.1 innings of shutout ball. 

- Mario Leon, Sr., RHP: Leon continued his solid play for the Eagles as he made nine starts in 15 appearances. He posted a 5-2 record with a 4.70 ERA. His victories as a midweek starter were impressive as he earned wins against No. 2 Florida, No. 21 South Florida and Miami. He registered a career-high 67 strikeouts and was named the ASUN Pitcher of the Week on one occasion. 

Impact Newcomer
- Christian Proffitt, Fr., SS/2B:
 The local product from Cape Coral, Fla. looks to make an instant impact in the FGCU lineup. He was named the 2017 Co-Player of the Year in Class 6A in District 16 after an oustanding season. As a junior he hit .279 and 15 RBIs and only struckout once every 14 at bats.