FOREST, Va. -- The Washington and Lee baseball team was picked sixth out of 10 teams in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll on Friday.
Bridgewater edged out Randolph-Macon for the ODAC's top spot with 90 total points. The Eagles garnered four first-place votes en route to the No. 1 spot in the poll, narrowly edging R-MC, which totaled more first-place votes (5), but finished with 88 total points. Virginia Wesleyan (80), Lynchburg (75), Hampden-Sydney (54), W&L (50), Guilford (44, 1 first-place vote), Eastern Mennonite (32), Roanoke (23) and Emory & Henry (14) rounded the poll.
W&L, which finished 14-19 overall last season (8-10 ODAC) and advanced to the semifinals of the ODAC Tournament, will have to fill the void left by four graduated position players and its No. 1 pitcher.
Among the Generals' top returnees are senior rightfielder Anthony Cardona (Lower Gwynedd, Pa./Chestnut Hill) and senior pitcher Gregg Laswell (Houston, Texas/Memorial), junior pitcher Roger Strong (Spencerport, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit) and sophomore shortstop Jonathan Stutts (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day).
Cardona, who was a Second Team All-ODAC selection two years ago, hit .272 last season with 18 runs scored and 17 RBIs. He has made 100 combined starts over his first three seasons.
Laswell and Strong will anchor the pitching staff. Strong is expected to be a weekend starter and Laswell will look to fill some midweek starts and resume his role as the team's top reliever.
Strong made 10 starts a season ago and posted a 4-2 record en route to being named to the all-conference second team. He posted a 3.28 ERA, good for sixth in the ODAC, and surrendered 23 runs (18 earned) on 53 hits and 17 walks with 32 strikeouts, while limiting opponents to just a .277 batting average-against.
Laswell was 3-2 with two saves among 17 appearances (43.2 IP) a season ago. He led the ODAC with an opponent batting average of .239, allowed a league-low 16 hits and his 9.48 strikeouts per game also paced the ODAC. He also ranked among the league leaders in ERA (3.30, 7th) and strikeouts (46, 8th).
Returning to the infield is Stutts, who started all 33 games at shortstop in his debut season. He finished second on the team with a .345 batting average and tied for second with 26 runs scored. His nine extra-base hits were also good for second and he drove in 18 runs.
W&L opens the 2011 season on Feb. 13, when it travels to Greensboro for a non-conference doubleheader. Game one is set to begin at 3:00 pm.