AUGUSTA, GA – The Peach Belt Conference announced the 2012 baseball preseason All-Conference team from the league office in Augusta. 13 players were named to the team, expanded from the usual 11 due to a three-way tie at designated hitter. Nine of the 12 baseball-playing schools in the Peach Belt had at least one player on the team with Armstrong, Columbus State, Francis Marion and Montevallo having two each. The team was selected by the league’s head coaches.
At first base is Montevallo’s Heath Peterson. A returning senior from Phenix City, Ala., he was named All-Conference in 2011 after hitting .364 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs. He led the team and was third in the PBC with a .607 slugging percentage. Defensively, Peterson had a .995 fielding percentage and was named a first-team Gold Glove recipient. He also led the team with 12 stolen bases and was named a PBC Player of the Week twice last year.
Peterson’s teammate Austin Dubberly was also named All-Conference last year at second base. A rising junior from Helena, Ala., he was also named second-team All-Region after hitting .352 with nine doubles and 25 RBIs. Another defensive standout, Dubberly committed only six errors in 210 chances at second base for a .972 fielding percentage. He was ranked in the PBC’s top 15 in assists and fielding double plays.
Flagler’s Nate Fudala is the preseason selection at third base. A first-team All-Conference selection last season, the senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, played five positions for the Saints last year, but will be stationed primarily at third base for 2012. Fudala hit .287 with five doubles and 14 RBIs in 2011 and was second on the team with 31 walks drawn and was one of two Saints to play in all 49 games.
Georgia College’s Tanner Funk was named first-team All-Conference at shortstop in 2011 and has been named a Rawlings Preseason All-American in 2012. A senior from Kearney, Mo., Funk was named an All-American twice following last year in which he hit .392 with two homers and 54 RBIs. He was fourth in the PBC in batting average and led the league with 20 doubles.
Armstrong’s John Roberts was named All-Conference at catcher in 2011. A returning senior from Rincon, Ga., he was named All-Region and a PBC Player of the Week. He led the Pirates with a .355 batting average and added five home runs and 51 RBIs. He was ranked second in the PBC with 18 doubles and fourth in the league in RBIs and total bases.
Kenny Bellavance was a first-team All-Conference selection in the outfield for North Georgia in 2011. A junior from Stone Mountain, Ga., he hit .317 with a pair of home runs and 35 RBIs. He led the team and was ranked in the PBC’s top 10 with 71 hits. Bellavance had 23 multi-hit games in 2011 along with three or more hits in seven contests.
Ryan Lewis was also named first-team All-Conference as an outfielder in 2011. The Columbus State standout returns for his senior season after hitting .360 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs. The native of Snellville, Ga., was ranked in the PBC’s top 15 in batting average, on-base percentage, runs, homers, total bases and stolen bases. He was also a PBC Player of the Week.
Francis Marion’s Buddy Sosnoskie was a co-PBC Player of the Year in 2011. The senior outfielder from Statesville, N.C., was third in the PBC with a .396 batting average and fifth with 45 runs driven in. He was also sixth in the Peach Belt with a .474 on-base percentage and eighth with his .559 slugging percentage. Sosnoskie started in all 57 games, leading the PBC with nine sacrifice flies and the team in stolen bases.
USC Aiken’s Nick Aranas was named to the 2011 preseason All-Conference team but never got a chance to play, missing the entire season with an injury. A 2010 first-team All-Conference selection at designated hitter, he was also named a first-team All-American by Daktronics. In 2010 the senior from Lexington, S.C., was ranked in the PBC’s top 15 in six categories including a .415 batting average, nine home runs and 53 RBIs.
Also at designated hitter is Columbus State’s Cameron Scott. A returning junior from Griffin, Ga., he was named first-team All-Conference and All-Region in 2011. He hit .269 with 31 RBIs and 34 runs scored and led the team with 14 doubles and 29 walks drawn. He was tied for 11th in the PBC in doubles and was among the team leaders in slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
Armstrong’s Drew Walker was named second-team All-Conference last season for the Pirates. A senior from Ringgold, Ga., he hit .311 with 11 doubles, a team-high seven home runs and 41 RBIs. He was tied for 10th in the league in homers and on-base percentage and was 12th in RBIs and 13th in slugging. He had 17 multi-hit games in 2011, including a pair of four-hit games.
Francis Marion’s Don Sandifer is the 2011 PBC Pitcher of the Year. Returning for his junior season, the Bamberg, S.C., native was 11-3 with a 2.33 ERA in 15 appearances last season. He led the Peach Belt with his 11 wins and also led the league with 105 strikeouts and a .193 opponent batting average. Sandifer pitched 108 innings with six complete games and three shutouts. He was named the PBC Pitcher of the Week twice.
UNC Pembroke’s Braxton Lewis was a finalist for the Tino Martinez DII Player of the Year award in 2011 as the closer for the Braves. A senior from Seven Springs, N.C., he was named an All-American by the ABCA and Daktronics and a first-team All-Conference selection. He was 7-1 with a 0.38 ERA and was second in the PBC with nine saves. The 2011 PBC Tournament Most Valuable Player, Lewis made 26 appearances and held opponents to a .146 batting average and recorded 51 strikeouts in his 47 innings of work.
2012 Peach Belt Conference
Preseason All-Conference Team
1b - Heath Peterson, Montevallo
2b - Austin Dubberly, Montevallo
3b - Nate Fudala, Flagler
SS - Tanner Funk, Georgia College
C - John Roberts, Armstrong
OF - Kenny Bellavance, North Georgia
OF - Ryan Lewis, Columbus State
OF - Buddy Sosnoskie, Francis Marion
DH - Nick Aranas, USC Aiken
DH - Cameron Scott, Columbus State
DH - Drew Walker, Armstrong
SP - Don Sandifer, Francis Marion
RP - Braxton Lewis, UNC Pembroke