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17 February 2013

ACC 2013 baseball season preview

NC State:

The Wolfpack made their third Super Regionals appearance since 1997 last year, but must address the loss of three of the team’s top four hitters. Carlos Rodon will return after a show-stopping freshman campaign that earned him All-American and Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors. N.C. State could ride its strong staff straight through the ACC to Omaha.

Duke:

It’s unlikely that first-year coach Chris Pollard can duplicate the magic he pulled off at Appalachian State, where an ailing program completely turned around. Duke has a soft rotation and little offense. Junior catcher Mike Rosenfeld hit .312 last season, and he will be a big contributor in a lineup picked to finish in the ACC cellar.

North Carolina:

North Carolina got tripped up on the national stage a year ago, wasting a sparkling 46-16 record by losing in its regional. Colin Moran, the country’s 2011 Freshman of the Year, leads a potent offense that has a legitimate shot at a title.

Maryland:

The Terrapins are in rebuilding mode, and coach John Szefc needs more hitters even more than he he needs another vowel in his name. Maryland hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1971, a streak that will live another year.

Boston College:

Pitching is the biggest weakness for Boston College, which finished 10-20 in the ACC a year ago thanks to a 5.35 team ERA. If the staff improves, the offense might have just enough juice to reach the postseason.

Virginia Tech:

Tyler Horan could lead the conference in home runs, and the Hokies will rely on his bat as the leader of a solid lineup in 2013. An inexperienced group of pitchers is the question mark surrounding this Virginia Tech team, which would otherwise be a lock for the tournament.

Virginia:

Virginia has made two trips to the College World Series in the past four years. Its talented core of experienced arms and consistent hitters – including standout right fielder Derek Fisher – should propel the Cavaliers to an impressive ACC record.

Wake Forest:

The Demon Deacons have completed the transition of Jack Fischer from shortstop to starting pitcher, and he is now considered Wake Forest’s ace. He will need ample support to lift the team to its first NCAA Tournament since 2007.

Clemson:

Clemson appears to be overshadowed to Florida State and N.C. State in the Atlantic Division, as they lost three players in the first 10 rounds of the MLB Draft. That said, the Tigers would benefit from several freshman contributors and could be a competitive surprise.

Georgia Tech:

The exciting march to the ACC Championship last year means Georgia Tech won’t fly under the radar this season. Slugger Brandon Thomas and starter Buck Farmer decided to make another run at Omaha rather than leave early to play professionally.

Florida State:

Florida State made it onto most preseason top 25 polls, riding the momentum from last year’s World Series appearance. The batting order is thin, but pitching will be stable as this squad looks to pull ahead in the conference and improve on its 2012 performance in Omaha.