2018 @ASUNBSB Season Preview: Kennesaw State Owls

LakePoint, Ga. - With first pitch of the 2018 ASUN Baseball season around the corner, it's time to take a look at what the conference's teams have to offer this coming spring. Earning the fourth spot in the ASUN Preseason Coaches Poll, Kennesaw State is looking to improve on its 25-32 record from last season. 

Kennesaw State, which won the 2016 ASUN Regular Season Title, returns four of its top-five hitters from last season in regards to batting average. Taylor Allum batted .319 last season and had a breakout performance with 15 home runs. He finished second in the ASUN in that category, while finishing in fourth with 46 RBIs. Allum earned 2018 ASUN Preseason All-Conference honors along his infield teammate Grant Williams. The senior infielder was one of the top defensive players in the league with a .987 fielding percentage. At the plate, he hit .305 while slugging .359 for the Owls. 

On the mound, AJ Moore returns after making 14 starts for the Owls pitching staff last season. Moore pitched 72.0 innings and posted a 5-6 record with 58 strikeouts. Nathan Dupree was the only other returning Owl pitcher to record starts last year with six. He finished with 20 strikeouts in 29.2 innings pitched. Sophomore Will Bice had the team's highest K9 ratio at 11.15 among returning pitchers. 

The Owls have once again scheduled a tough non-conference slate with games against Georgia, Oklahoma, Mercer and Jacksonville State. Kennesaw State ranked first in home runs as a team last year with 58, while finishing second in the ASUN with 103 doubles. The first pitch of the new season will be on February 16th against UConn.  

Kennesaw State Team Quick Facts
2017 Record:
 25-32 (10-11)
Best Single-Season Record in ASUN: 29-27; (17-4) - 2016 
ASUN Championships: 2014
ASUN Regular Season Titles: 2016
NCAA Appearances: 1 (2014 - Reached Super Regional)
2018 Season Notes: Kennesaw State is looking for its eighth-straight season with 25-plus wins, as the Owls brought the thunder at the plate last year with a league-high 58 home runs. The Owls return several key hitters who helped the team post a .435 slugging percentage, tops in the ASUN in 2017. 
Season Opener: vs. Connecticut; 2/16/18 - 4 PM
ASUN Opener: at USC Upstate; 3/29/18 - 7 PM
ASUN Home Opener: vs. Stetson; 4/6/18 - 6 PM

Coaching Staff
Head Coach:
 Mike Sansing
Career Record (Years): 1,069-606 (30th Year)
Kennesaw State Record (Years): 977-551 (27th year)
Staff: Kevin Erminio, Trey Fowler, Clint Harrison, Chris Archambeault

Key Returners 
- Taylor Allum, Sr., INF: Allum had a breakout season in 2017 as he led the team in homers with 15 and posted 40 RBIs. The 15 bombs tied Kennesaw State's Division I-era record. Allum was a mainstay in the lineup, playing 56 games and making 55 starts while hitting .314 and posting a career-best .590 slugging percentage. He earned First Team All-Conference honors for the first time and looks to help the Owls get back to the NCAA Tournament this season. 
- Grant Williams, Sr., INF:
 The 2017 ASUN Defensive Player of the Year returns for the Owls in the middle of the diamond. He made 53 starts in 54 games last season and finished the year with a .987 fielding percentage, committing just three errors all year. The second basemen also posted career-highs at the plate in several categories, including batting average (.305), hits (68) and RBI (29). He joined Allum on this year's Preseason All-Conference team. 
- David Chabut, Jr., INF:
 Chabut formed a dynamic defensive duo with Williams last season and looks to continue that this year. The shortstop helped turn 24 double plays last year and posted a .946 fielding percentage. The Loganville, Ga. native finished with 12 multi-hit games while registering a career-high 47 hits and 27 runs scored. 

Top Returning Pitchers
- AJ Moore, Sr., RHP:
 Moore returns as the Owls' most experienced pitcher with 72.0 innings pitched last season. He made 14 starts for the Owls, going 5-7 in those outings. He struck out 58 total batters, with 26 of those coming in ASUN play. He pitched a season-high 8.0 innings in the ASUN Championship victory against the eventual champions FGCU. Moore looks to provide that leadership to a younger staff as he enters the season with 35 career starts.
- Will Bice, Sr., RHP:
 Featuring out of the bullpen exclusively in 2017, Bice showed some promise for the Owls in his 16 appearances. He pitched 15.1 total innings and struck out 19 batters. His 11.15 K/9 ratio ranked second on the team, and first among pitchers returning to this season's squad for the Kennesaw State Owls. The righty had several good outings, including two scoreless innings out of the bullpen against Oklahoma. 
- Logan Hutchinson, Sr., RHP:
 Hutchinson returns to the Owls pitching staff after missing last season. In 2016, he was outstanding with a 6-1 record in 31 appearances. He finished with a 3.14 ERA and his 31 appearances rank third in Kennesaw State's D-I program history. Against ASUN opponents, Hutchinson was 3-0 and finished with a 1.17 ERA. He looks to provide some immediate help to a staff that lost several key components. 

Impact Newcomer
- Jaylen Smith, Jr., INF: Smith joins the Owls after playing for Chattahoochee Valley Community College the past couple of seasons. The former Eagles Landing Christian Academy star was a First Team All-Region 5A selection and a 2015 Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American. Smith helped his CVCC squad reach the Junior College World Series last season. He batted .302 with 10 doubles and four homers. Smith provided some speed on the basepaths with 16 stolen bases, and only committed six errors in 140 chances playing the hot corner.

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