ROCK HILL, S.C.—The Tusculum University baseball team is picked to finish fifth in the 2020 South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll announced league officials Monday. TU senior second baseman Daulton Martin was also named to the Preseason All-SAC Baseball team which was also released by the conference office.
The Pioneers received 95 total points of a vote of the league’s 12 head baseball coaches. The Catawba Indians are the preseason favorite after putting together a strong postseason run which included the SAC Tournament title and the NCAA Division II Southeast Region championship en route to advancing to the College World Series. Catawba received 128 points including eight first place votes.
Last year’s regular season champion Newberry is second in the preseason poll with 124 points and four first place nods. Lincoln Memorial is third with 111 points, followed by Wingate (98), Tusculum (95), Carson-Newman (84), Lenoir-Rhyne (72), Anderson (58), Coker (47), Queens (44), Mars Hill (37) and league newcomer UVa-Wise (26) to round out the poll.
Martin was Tusculum’s lone representative on the Preseason All-SAC team. Last year, he became the third consensus All-American in program history, sweeping accolades from the ABCA, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Division II Conference Commissioners Association.
The two All-American and three-time All-South Atlantic Conference selection led Tusculum with his .362 batting average in 2019 while also leading the league with 22 doubles (T6th in NCAA II) and 52 walks (3rd in NCAA II). He also led Tusculum with his eight home runs, 112 totals bases, .633 slugging percentage, .518 on-base percentage (18th in NCAA II) and five sacrifice flies. He accounted for 15 multiple-hit games while also going 17-of-22 in stolen bases and was hit by pitch 11 times.
In his 153-game career with the Pioneers, Martin is batting .384 which is the ninth-highest average in school history. He is also listed throughout the TU record book where his 54 career doubles are tied for the most in program history. He is fifth all-time in hits (214), fifth in triples (11), seventh in RBI (129), third in total bases (338), second in walks (105), fifth in hit by pitch (26) and second in career on-base percentage (.498).
Martin is majoring in business management and is a member of the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll and the Tusculum Athletic Director's Honor Roll. Last fall semester, he was one of 42 TU student-athletes to boast a perfect 4.00 grade point average.
In his first year at the helm of the Tusculum program, head coach Brandon Steele guided the Black and Orange to a 30-21 record and tied for third place in the SAC standings. The Pioneers return 19 lettermen including five position starters and eight pitchers from the 2019 club.
Tusculum will open the 2020 campaign next Friday night (Jan. 31) when the Pioneers take on Palm Beach Atlantic University as part of TU’s annual South Florida swing to start the baseball season.