A college baseball capsule look at NCAA Division I conferences that include schools from the Carolinas:
Contenders: Virginia, Miami, Florida State, N.C. State.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Player to watch: LF Corey Ray, Louisville: He hit .325 with 34 stolen bases as a sophomore and batted leadoff for Team USA.
Comment: Louisville (Atlantic) and Miami (Coastal) are the division picks, but Virginia has several starters back from its national championship team.
Contenders: Tulane, South Florida
Player to watch: P Anthony Kay, Connecticut: Kay was a standout for Team USA in 2015 and has an excellent curveball.
Comment: Decimated by injuries last year after being the preseason No. 3 national pick, Houston is loaded. East Carolina could threaten but is rebuilding.
Favorite: Saint Louis
Contenders: VCU, Rhode Island
Player to watch: P Tyler Wilson, Rhode Island: At 6-4 and 215 pounds, Wilson throws an overpowering fastball and is coming off a strong (6-3, 2.16 ERA) freshman season.
Comment: The Billikens are an offensive power, but coaches say VCU, Rhode Island and even Davidson could threaten the favorites.
Favorite: Coastal Carolina
Contenders: Winthrop, High Point
Player to watch: P Matt Crohan, Winthrop: A junior, Crohan was 7-4 with 87 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings last season.
Comment: Coastal Carolina is ranked 23rd nationally in the preseason Baseball America poll, but a number of analysts say Winthrop could gain an NCAA at-large tournament berth.
Favorite: UNC Wilmington
Contenders: Charleston, Northeastern
Player to watch: OF Bradley Jones, College of Charleston: A junior, Jones hit .309 with 11 home runs, including a shot against Auburn in the NCAA tournament.
Comment: Right-handed pitchers Ryan Foster and Jared Gesell could power UNC Wilmington, but Charleston and Northeastern (coached by Mike Glavine, brother of Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Tom) are in the mix.
Contenders: Florida Atlantic, Southern Mississippi
Player to watch: SS C.J. Chatham, Florida Atlantic: A junior, Chatham carried the Owls to the NCAA tournament last year by hitting .323 and putting together a 19-game hitting streak.
Comment: Rice has won conference titles for 20 straight seasons and has pitcher Blake Fox (26-2 all-time) back to lead the way. Charlotte, coming off an uncharacteristic losing season (19-29), could be poised for a comeback behind pitcher Sean Geoghegan.
Favorite: Florida A&M
Contenders: Bethune-Cookman, Norfolk State
Player to watch: SS Demetrius Sims, Bethune-Cookman: A sophomore, Sims batted .283 and scored 35 runs last season, and he is considered among the nation’s best fielding shortstops.
Comment: Florida A&M has a number of promising junior college transfers in the lineup, while Sims is expected to help Bethune-Cookman rebound from a 19-40 season in 2015.
Contenders: Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, LSU
Player to watch: OF Buddy Reed, Florida: A junior, he hit .305 and had 18 stolen bases last season.
Comment: With 18 letter-winners returning, Texas A&M could push Florida, which lost a pair of one-run games to national champ Virginia in the College World Series and also has 18 letter-winners back.
Contenders: Samford, Wofford
Player to watch: OF Kyle Lewis, Mercer: As a sophomore, he was conference player of the year with 17 homers and a .367 batting average.
Comment: Pitcher Matt Wilburn gives Wofford a lift, but experts say Mercer and Samford have more depth and should dominated.
Contenders: South Alabama, Troy, Texas State
Player to watch: 1B Stefan Trosclair, Louisiana-Lafayette: He hit .338 with 16 homers, 53 RBI and 15 stolen bases last year.
Comment: The Rajun’ Cajuns reached the NCAA Super Regionals last year, but with conference Pitcher of the Year Kevin Hill back, South Alabama could contend. Appalachian State was picked last in the coaches’ preseason poll.
Compiled by Steve Lyttle
Appalachian State: at Coastal Carolina, 4 p.m.
Charlotte: William & Mary, 3 p.m.
Clemson: Maine, 4 p.m.
Davidson: Marist, 6 p.m.
Duke: California, 4 p.m.
East Carolina: Longwood, 4 p.m.
Gardner-Webb: Delaware State, 4 p.m.
North Carolina: at UCLA, 9 p.m.
N.C. State: Old Dominion, noon
South Carolina: Albany, 4 p.m.
Wake Forest: Georgetown, 6 p.m.
Winthrop: La Salle, 4 p.m.