29. ARMSTRONG ATLANTIC PIRATES (41-16)
Final 2012 Rank: 19
The Pirates won both the Peach Belt regular season and tournament titles, but went 1-2 in the Southeast Regional with a pair of lopsided loses to have their season come to a sudden close. The Pirates have the pieces for another run in 2013 but some major contributors, most noticeably slugger Zach Taylor who hit .373 with a .699 slugging percentage, are gone from last year’s team. Head Coach Joe Roberts needs some things to come together to replicate last year’s regular season success, but if the team works hard and throws strikes they could be a force to be reckoned with once again.
A pair of proven starters will significantly impact Armstrong’s win total in 2013. Last season Ethan Bader was masterful, going 12-4 with a 3.37 ERA and 119 strikeouts (third in nation). He will be rejoined in the rotation by Chris Base who redshirted last season, but went 7-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 106 innings pitched in 2011. After Bader and Base the rest of the rotation will likely be comprised of JC arms. The closers job is slated to go to Georgia Tech transfer Chase Butler who is also penciled in as the Pirates starting third baseman.
Butler, who hit .253 in his two years at Georgia Tech, will take over Taylor’s job batting in the middle of the lineup. He’ll be looking to drive in RJ Dennard who was second on the team in batting at .352, as well as Chris Zittouer who hit .309 and Clayton Miller who stole 20 bases. Joining them on the diamond will be Tennessee transfer Chris Fritts who batted .250 as a regular starter for the Vols. The Pirates definitely have the pieces in hand for another PBC title run, but whether or not that work together will be the question.