Feb. 6, 2014
NEW YORK--Sophomore third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.) was named a preseason All-BIG EAST selection and Villanova was picked to finish in sixth place in the league in a poll of league head coaches. The conferenced announced its preseason awards and predicted order of finish on Thursday afternoon.
Jewitt was part of a large freshman class for the Wildcats last season and gained a great deal of experience while playing virtually every day. He appeared in 47 games and started 38 of them while playing both corner infield positions. Jewitt ranked second on the team in 2013 with 11 doubles and he batted .212 overall with a .312 on-base percentage while scoring 15 runs and drawing 17 walks. He had six multi-hit games for the season and also stole five bases in seven tries.
The progress that Jewitt and the rest of the 2013 freshman class made during the course of the season was evident as the year went on. Jewitt finished the season by reaching base safely in each of his last seven games, while posting a .483 on-base percentage in that span.
Jewitt was also a steady defensive presence at third base and is expected to return there this season, where he will be part of what should be a strong infield defense. Villanova also returns starters at shortstop and first base in sophomores Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) and Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.).
The result of the coaches' poll with regards to the order of the conference standings demonstrates the amount of parity that there should be in the league this season. St. John's received the most first-place votes of any team with three but finished third overall in the poll, trailing Creighton and Seton Hall who had two first-place votes apiece.
League newcomer Creighton was picked to win the league with 32 points in the poll, while Seton Hall (31) and St. John's (29) were second and third, respectively. Just three points separated those top three teams, with Xavier being picked fourth with 21 points.
The other three teams in the poll were even closer together and separated by just one point. Georgetown came in fifth with 12 points, while the Wildcats and Butler each had 11 points to finish in a tie for sixth.
Last season several of the BIG EAST teams featured senior-laden rosters and the makeup of the postseason all-conference team reflected that. The combination of younger rosters overall this season in addition to the three incoming teams will make for a wide-open conference race. Just two of the preseason All-BIG EAST picks (Sal Annunziata of Seton Hall, Zach Lauricella of St. John's) earned all-conference recognition at the end of last season.
Creighton senior outfielder Mike Gerber was named the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year and Bluejays sophomore starting pitcher Tommy Strunc was selected as the Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
The Preseason All-BIG EAST team consisted of Jewitt, Gerber, Strunc, Annunziata (first base), Lauricella (outfield), catcher/designated hitter Nick Collins (Georgetown), first baseman Joey Forney (Xavier), second baseman Jake Peter (Creighton), outfielder Chris Selden (Seton Hall), starting pitchers James Lomangino (St. John's), Josh Prevost (Seton Hall) and Eric Stout (Butler), and relief pitcher Bryan Sova (Creighton).
All seven conference teams open the 2014 season next Friday, February 14. Villanova begins the year with a three-game series at Charleston Southern. The season opener is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the series will mark the first-ever meeting in baseball between the two schools.
2014 Preseason Baseball All-BIG EAST Team and Awards
Preseason Player of the Year - Mike Gerber, Creighton, Sr., OF
Preseason Pitcher of the Year - Tommy Strunc, Creighton, So., SP
Preseason All-BIG EAST
Nick Collins, Georgetown, So., C/DH
Sal Annunziata, Seton Hall, Jr., 1B
Joey Forney, Xavier, Jr., 1B
Jake Peter, Creighton, Jr., 2B
Kevin Jewitt, Villanova, So., 3B
Mike Gerber, Creighton, Sr., OF
Zach Lauricella, St. John's, Jr., OF
James Lomangino, St. John's, Sr., SP
Josh Prevost, Seton Hall, Sr., SP
Eric Stout, Butler, Jr., SP
Tommy Strunc, Creighton, So., SP
Bryan Sova, Creighton, Sr., RP
Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Creighton - 32 points (2 first-place votes)
2. Seton Hall - 31 (2)
3. St. John's - 29 (3)
4. Xavier - 21
5. Georgetown - 12
6. Villanova - 11
Butler - 11