Release from Georgia State Athletics:
The Georgia State trio of catcher Joey Roach, center fielder Ryan Blanton and shortstop Justin Jones were named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team selected by the league head coaches and announced Tuesday.
All three are coming off all-star seasons in 2015 as Roach and Blanton are returning first-team All-Sun Belt honorees, while Jones was a Freshman All-American last spring.
Roach, senior from Holly Springs, N.C., is the two-time, first-team All-Sun Belt catcher. He was also a semifinalist for 2015 Johnny Bench Award as well as a Capital One Academic All-America second team selection.
The left-handed hitter has a career batting average of .300 with 14 home runs and 86 runs batted in, including a .302 average, seven homers and 39 RBI last spring.
Blanton, a junior from Lilburn, Ga., and Parkview High School, earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors despite missing the last month of the season due to a broken hand. He was the team’s leading hitter at .330 with six homers and 22 RBI in 44 games, along with 11 doubles and four triples. He the Sun Belt with 42 runs scored when he was injured.
Blanton was named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Sun Belt Player of the Week after homering twice with five RBI in the same inning vs. Kennesaw State.
Jones made a huge impact, both offensively and defensively as a rookie to earn a spot on the Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American team by Collegiate Baseball. The Warner Robins, Ga., native was first among Sun Belt freshmen in batting average, hits and runs and second in RBI as he hit .297 with 28 RBI and 35 runs scored, with nine doubles, two triples and one homer. He was a key part of Georgia State’s improved defense, including a Sun Belt-leading 57 double plays turned.
Georgia State, which was picked sixth in the preseason poll, opens the season Feb. 19 vs. Western Michigan in the first game of the Atlanta Challenge, which also includes VCU and Purdue.
2016 Sun Belt Coaches Predicted Order of Finish (first place votes)
- UL Lafayette (8) – 117 pts
- South Alabama (3) – 111 pts
- Texas State – 88 pts
- Troy – 81 pts
- Georgia Southern – 76 pts
- Georgia State – 63 pts
- UT Arlington – 57 pts
- Arkansas State – 50 pts
- Little Rock – 35 pts
- UL Monroe – 29 pts
- Appalachian State – 19 pts