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GREENSBORO, N.C. – One year after winning the Southern Conference regular season title, the UNC Greensboro baseball team was picked second in the 2019 preseason coaches and media polls that were released on Thursday, Feb. 7. Along with that distinction, junior infielder Caleb Webster was named as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year and teammate Austin Embler was selected First Team Preseason All-SoCon in a vote by the panelists.

The Spartans, which won their second regular season league title in program history since joining the Southern Conference in 1998, were 39-15 overall and 18-3 in conference action a season ago. UNCG has posted at least 35 wins in three straight seasons for the first time in program history. After earning wins in two elimination games in as many days, the Spartans season came to a close at the 2018 SoCon Tournament with an 8-4 setback to Western Carolina.

It marks the second time in as many seasons that Webster has been named to First Team Preseason All-SoCon and the first time in his career that he drew Preseason Player of the Year accolades.

Webster, who hit from the two-spot of the lineup in all 54 games, finished the season with second-best batting average (.380) on the team and fourth-best in the conference a season ago. He was responsible for 11 extra-base hits on the campaign, while scoring 51 runs and driving in 37.

Webster finished with 29 multi-hit games in 2018, ending with a single-season high four hits on two occasions against Marist (4-4, RBI, 2 runs; March 3) and Mercer (4-5, run). The junior from Randleman, N.C., was also responsible for a .456 slugging percentage, .417 on-base percentage and seven stolen bases over the course of the slate.

Embler, a redshirt senior from Southern Pines, N.C., was named to the First Team Preseason All-SoCon for the second time in as many seasons. He was the leadoff hitter in the UNCG lineup throughout the course of 2018, posting with a .357 batting average, ninth-best in the league and fourth-best on the team. Embler finished tied with Cesar Trejo for most doubles (15) and was third on the team in hits (81), earning the second-best on-base percentage (.438) for the Spartans in the process.

The Spartans begin their defense of the Southern Conference regular season crown on Friday, Feb. 15, when they host Quinnipiac for a three-game homestand. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.

2019 Preseason All-Southern Conference

Preseason Player of the Year
Caleb Webster, Jr. UNCG

Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Sam Strickland, So., SAM

First Team
SP Dylan Spence, The Citadel
SP Sam Strickland, Samford
RP Nick Spear, Mercer
C Anthony Mulrine, Samford
1B Brooks Carlson, Samford
2B Austin Embler, UNCG
SS RJ Yeager, Mercer
3B Caleb Webster, UNCG
OF Jeffrey Brown, The Citadel
OF David Beam, ETSU
OF Colin Davis, Wofford
DH Le Bassett, Mercer

Second Team
SP Nik Verbeke, Furman
SP Austin Higginbotham, Wofford
RP Anthony Garcia, Wofford
C Bryce Leasure, The Citadel
1B Jacob Huggins, VMI
2B Cullen Smith, ETSU
SS Branden Fryman, Samford
3B Justice Bigbie, Western Carolina
OF Jabari Richards, Furman
OF Matthew Koehler, Western Carolina
OF Kel Johnson, Mercer
DH Lawson Hill, Wofford

2019 Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Samford (7) 63
UNCG (2) 55
Mercer 52
Wofford 33
Western Carolina 31
Furman 24
The Citadel 22

Preseason Media Poll
Samford (11) 123
UNCG (1) 107
Mercer (2) 98
Wofford 83
Furman 49
Western Carolina 46
VMI 32
The Citadel 28