The Norfolk State baseball team has been picked to win the MEAC Northern Division title for the second consecutive year, and senior pitcher Matt Outman was tabbed the preseason Pitcher of the Year in voting released by the conference on Friday.
The Spartans, coming off their first-ever MEAC North title in 2015, received 14 of a possible 18 first-place votes in the divisional voting. Delaware State received two first-place votes and was picked second in the north, followed by Maryland Eastern Shore and Coppin State. The Eagles of CSU received the other two first-place votes for the division.
Florida A&M, the defending MEAC South and MEAC tournament champion, was picked to win the southern division once again. The Rattlers got 14 first-place votes, followed by Bethune-Cookman in second (three first-place votes), Savannah State in third, North Carolina Central in fourth (one first-place vote) and North Carolina A&T fifth.
Outman earned the MEAC Pitcher of the Year award in 2015 after leading the conference in wins (eight) and strikeouts (85). He went 8-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 13 appearances. Outman is 16-4 over his two years for the Spartans.
Outman was NSU’s only first-team preseason All-MEAC selection in voting released Friday, but the Spartans matched Bethune-Cookman for the most total preseason All-MEAC picks, with five. Sophomore catcher Ismael Herrera, junior infielder Roger Hall and outfielders Denathan Dukes and Angel Rosario were all voted to the preseason All-MEAC second team.
Herrera batted .290 and committed just three errors behind the plate as a freshman in 2015. Hall earned second-team All-MEAC accolades last year after ranking second in the MEAC with 41 RBI and hitting at a .281 clip. Dukes, a junior, was a first-team All-MEAC selection last year after leading the MEAC with a .357 batting average. He also scored 33 runs and stole 11 bases. Rosario, a senior, earned a spot on the MEAC All-Tournament team last season. He batted .338 with 16 doubles, 25 RBI and nine steals.
The Spartans welcome back 18 letterwinners from last year’s team that went 27-16 overall and 19-5 in the MEAC, setting school Division I records for overall and conference victories in a season. NSU opens the year at home on Feb. 20-21 in a three-game series against Lehigh.