Wednesday, February 10, 2010

JSU picked second, Cunningham denied

Jacksonville State's baseball team was picked a close second in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason coaches poll and placed three players on the preseason All-OVC team.

The upset, however, may have been the Gamecocks' most decorated player since last season -- outfielder Todd Cunningham of Jacksonville -- was nowhere on the list. Cunningham won the batting title in the prestigeous Cape Cod Summer League, flirting with .400, was named the league's best pro prospect and is a multiple preseason All-America, including a first-teamer by Baseball America, but was not on either the preseason All-OVC team or the major preseason awards.

Cunningham said he wasn't bothered by the apparent snub, saying there are a number of good players in the league deserving of such recognition.

Besides, he's not the kind of player who focuses on the awards. His focus remains on playing and the business of winning.

"It's hard to not notice all the stuff going on around you," Cunningham said. "I don’t want to play the oblivious card or anything like that. It's hard to not notice, but as far as adding any kind of pressure to the season, it's still just going out to play.

"First and foremost, before all that stuff comes along it's about winning. There's no real focus on the pressure adding up to me personally. I'm definitely team oriented."

Morehead State senior shortstop Drew Lee (.417, 17 HRs, 67 RBIs) and Eastern Kentucky junior third baseman Jayson Langfels (.441, 12 HRs, 72 RBIs) were named OVC Preseason Co-Players of the Year while Murray State senior Chris Craycraft (10-3, 4.05) and Eastern Illinois junior Josh Mueller (8-1, 4.85 ERA) were tabbed OVC Preseason Co-Pitchers of the Year.

The Gamecocks' three preseason All-OVC picks are second baseman Bert Smith, the school's all-time stolen base leader who missed most of last season after shoulder surgery, outfielder Daniel Adamson and relief pitcher Bill Henke.

In the team poll, the Gamecocks picked up the most first place votes (four), but finished with 56 points -- three behind preseason favorite Eastern Illinois, the 2009 regular season champions. Tennessee Tech, the 2009 OVC Tournament champs, was third (51), followed by Murray State (43), Morehead State (33), Eastern Kentucky (26), Southeast Missouri (25), Austin Peay (22) and UT Martin (9).

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