TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- For the third year in a row, the Florida State baseball team is favored to win the ACC's Atlantic Division title as voted on by the league's 12 head coaches.
The Seminoles garnered 70 points, including 10 first-place votes to win the crown, while ACC rival Georgia Tech was picked to finish fourth on the opposite side in the conference's Coastal Division.
Since the league's inception of divisional play in 2006, the Seminoles have captured three of the four divisional titles including three straight in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll and Baseball America Top 25 also rank Florida State No. 5 and No. 9, respectively, heading in to opening day which begins across the nation Feb. 19. FSU will open that day at home against Georgia State.
Minus Lee County native Jack Posey, who is sitting out this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Seminoles return seven position starters and eight pitchers who saw action off the mound in 2009, including all three pitchers from the weekend rotation in All-Americans Sean Gilmartin and Mike McGee and sophomore Brian Busch. FSU will also be led by captains Tyler Holt and Stephen Cardullo who hit .401 and .376, respectively in 2009.
In all, the Seminoles welcome back 17 of 28 letterwinners for the upcoming season.
"Being picked to finish first in the Atlantic Division is just something that our young men understand is part of the process," longtime FSU coach Mike Martin said. "We know if we are to be successful it will have to be accomplished on the field. I am sure that our young men are flattered but know that we have to get better each day."
Defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Virginia, which made its first ever College World Series appearance last June, was picked as the 2010 preseason favorite to win the league as well as the Coastal Division. The Cavaliers were projected as the ACC's 2010 champion on eight head coaches' ballots. Three coaches chose Florida State and North Carolina received one vote.
The season marks the fifth year of divisional play in the ACC, as both the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions have produced two different winners. Florida State (2007, 2008 & 2009) and Clemson (2006) have shared the Atlantic title, while North Carolina (2006, 2007 & 2009) has won three Coastal Division crowns with Miami finishing on top in 2008.
The ACC Baseball Championship will be held May 26-30 at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C.
BIG EXPECTATIONS AT TECH?:
With Georgia Tech being picked to finish second, coach Danny Hall says it's now time to live up to those expectations.
The Jackets, led by former Herald Player of the Year, Thomas Nichols of Leesburg, finished second in the coastal division in 2009, holding a 17-10-1 mark in conference play. Tech is followed by North Carolina, Miami, Virginia Tech and Duke in the Coastal predictions.
Clemson was picked to finish second in the Atlantic Division, followed by Boston College, NC State, Wake Forest and Maryland.
Georgia Tech will open the regular season Feb. 19 with a three-game series against Missouri State at home.