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Furman's Gaddis Named SoCon Preseason Pitcher Of The Year, Paladins Picked Fourth

Will Gaddis
Will Gaddis

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman's Will Gaddis has been named Southern Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year, and the Paladins are a consensus fourth place pick in a pair of polls conducted by league head coaches and media, it was announced today.

Gaddis (10-3, 3.45 ERA in 2016), a junior right-hander and reigning SoCon Pitcher of the Year, went 7-1 versus the SoCon last season, won eight of his final 10 starts, and was dominant at home, going 6-0 with a 1.84 ERA in seven outings.  In his final outing of the campaign, the Brentwood, Tenn., product twirled a complete game, four-hit shutout in a 3-0 blanking of East Tennessee State in SoCon Tournament first round action.  He recently earned SoCon Preseason Pitcher of the Year tabs in league previews by Perfect Game and Baseball America, with the latter rating him the 39th best college draft prospect available for the 2017 Major League Draft, scheduled for June 17.

Gaddis was joined on the preseason All-SoCon first team by sophomore outfielder Jabari Richards (.343, 10 HR, 25 RBI in 2016), who captured SoCon Freshman of the Year last season despite missing a full month of action.

Sophomore third baseman Jake Crawford (.308, 1 HR, 31 RBI)  garnered second team recognition following a 2016 campaign that saw him bat .354 and field a solid .938 over the final 30 contests.  He also took over the Paladins' closer role last year, notching five saves in his final 10 appearances (1.47 ERA).

Furman's consensus fourth place pick in both polls matches 2016's fourth place finish that saw the Paladins closed the regular season on a 12-4 run and win their final four SoCon series', including a weekend triumph over eventual SoCon Tournament champion Western Carolina.

First-year head coach Brett Harker welcomes back 22 lettermen, including seven position starters and 16 pitchers who count collegiate experience.  Among the proven returning veterans are senior catcher Cameron Whitehead (.340, 4 HR, 20 RBI) and senior outfielder Carter Grote (.318, 6 HR, 28 RBI) — both of whom missed notable playing time last year due to injury.

The Paladins open the season on Feb. 17 against Dayton, with the season's first pitch is set for 4:00 p.m. at Latham Stadium.

2017 Preseason Southern Conference Coaches Poll
Place   Team (1st-place votes)             Points
1.         UNCG (5)                                  58
2.         Mercer (3)                                 57
3.         Western Carolina (1)                53
4.         Furman                                     40
5.         Samford                                    34
6.         ETSU                                         33
7.         Wofford                                    20
8.         VMI                                           17
9.         The Citadel                               12
2017 Preseason Southern Conference Media Poll
Place   Team (1st-place votes)             Points
1.         Mercer (8)                                 131
2.         Western Carolina (4)                124
3.         UNCG (3)                                  115
4.         Furman (1)                              84
5.         Samford                                     83
6.         ETSU                                          82
7.         Wofford                                     46
8.         The Citadel                                32
9.         VMI                                            23
2017 Preseason All-Southern Conference
Preseason Player of the Year
Hagen Owenby, Jr., C, ETSU
Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Will Gaddis, Jr., RHP, Furman
First Team
SP     Will Gaddis, Furman
SP     Ryan Askew, Mercer
RP     Andrew Wantz, UNCG
C       Hagen Owenby, ETSU
1B     Austin Edens, Samford
2B     Ben Spitznagel, UNCG
SS     Matt Meeder, Mercer
3B     Danny Edgeworth, Mercer
OF     Trey Truitt, Mercer
OF     Jabari Richards, Furman
OF     Bryson Bowman, Western Carolina
DH     Cesar Trejo, UNCG
Second Team
SP     Matt Frisbee, UNCG
SP     Bryan Sammons, Western Carolina
RP     Wyatt Burns, Samford
C       Charlie Madden, Mercer
1B     Collin Fleischer, VMI
2B     Ryan Hagan, Mercer
SS     Chris Cook, ETSU
3B     Jake Crawford, Furman
3B     Max McDougald, Wofford
OF    Andrew Moritz, UNCG
OF    Dillon Stewart, UNCG
OF    Matt Smith, Western Carolina
DH    Andrew Bullock, Western Carolina

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information