#23 North Carolina State Baseball 2018 Preview

North Carolina State Wolfpack
Overall Rank: #23
Conference Rank: #7 ACC
Entering his 22nd year as the head man at North Carolina State, Elliott Avent once again goes into a season with high expectations. The Wolfpack reached the regional finals in 2017, where they fell to Kentucky, and should have similar aspirations in 2018. Despite some losses and injuries, the pitching staff should be in good shape behind seniors Brian Brown and Johnny Piedmonte. Closer Joe O’Donnell is back to highlight an experienced bullpen.
2017: 36-25, 16-14
2017 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Elliott Avent
Key Departed Players:
Josh McLain, OF, .311 BA, 6 HR, 31 RBI
Joe Dunand, IF, .287 BA, 18 HR, 51 RBI
Evan Mendoza, IF, .262 BA, 5 HR, 35 RBI
Sean Adler, P, 3.58 ERA, 6-6 W-L, 78.0 IP, 70 SO
Key Returning Players:
Brad Debo, C, .335 BA, 4 HR, 43 RBI
Will Wilson, IF, .300 BA, 8 HR, 48 RBI
Brett Kinneman, OF, .282 BA, 10 HR, 41 RBI
Johnny Piedmonte, P, 2.77 ERA, 7-0 W-L, 61.2 IP, 42 SO
Brian Brown, P, 3.76 ERA, 4-3 W-L, 67.0 IP, 63 SO
Will Wilson, Brett Kinneman and Brad Debo are the top returning hitters. Wilson, a sophomore infielder, has picked up some preseason All-American accolades after hitting .300 with eight homeruns and 48 RBIs as a freshman. Like Wilson, Kinneman has a very powerful bat. The junior outfielder belted ten homeruns and 14 doubles and drove in 41 runs. Debo led North Carolina State with a .335 batting average in 2017, but he too has some power to his bat, driving in 43 runs with four homeruns and 18 doubles. Those three are a great group to build around, but the Wolfpack will have to find a few more productive bats from their many talented, but unproven, younger players. That should not be much of a problem and expect North Carolina State to remain competitive in the very tough ACC and get back to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in nine seasons.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament