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2011 Conference USA Preseason Poll

Conference USA announced its 2011 preseason baseball awards, as chosen by the league’s nine head coaches. Rice junior third baseman Anthony Rendon was chosen as the preseason Player of the Year, while Southern Miss senior right-hander Todd McInnis was named the preseason Pitcher of the Year. Rendon has been named C-USA Player of the Year each of the last two seasons, while McInnis was the Pitcher of the Year in 2009.

Rendon won the 2010 Dick Howser Trophy as the top player in college baseball. He became just the second player in C-USA history to be named the league’s player of the year in back-to-back seasons. Rendon picked up the honor in 2010 after leading the Owls to the regular season league championship and the school’s 16th-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. Last season, Rendon batted .394 while leading Conference USA in home runs (26). He was among the nation’s leaders in runs scored (83) and walks (65), and drove-in 85 runs in Rice’s 63 games. Rendon maintained an .801 slugging percentage, a .530 on-base percentage, and finished with more home runs (26) than strikeouts (22). Defensively, he had a .973 fielding percentage at third base and started a total of 16 double-plays for the Owls.

McInnis, a first team All-Conference USA selection last year, has a career record of 25-13 with a 3.85 ERA over the previous four seasons. He has struck out 276 hitters while holding opponents to a .255 batting average against. McInnis will have the rare opportunity to play five seasons of collegiate baseball because of the medical redshirt he received in 2007 after pitching in five games before suffering a season-ending injury. The redshirt-senior will have the opportunity to challenge for numerous school records. He is already in the school’s top ten in each of the following categories: wins (second with 25), starts (second with 53), innings pitched (fourth with 296.2), strikeouts (fifth with 276) and decisions (fourth with 38). In 2010, McInnis was 6-5 with a 3.30 ERA and 87 strikeouts with 34 strikeouts in 95.1 innings pitched.

Rendon is joined by two Owls teammates on the preseason All-Conference USA team. Junior LHP Taylor Wall is on the squad for the second straight season after going 5-5 with a 4.45 ERA and 61 strikeouts with 30 walks last season. Junior Jeremy Rathjen earned a place on the team at designated hitter after batting .317 with a team-high 20 doubles, 13 homers and 69 RBI last spring.

McInnis is joined on the preseason All-C-USA squad by Golden Eagles senior relief pitcher Collin Cargill and junior SS B.A. Vollmuth. Cargill was a first team All-Conference USA selection in 2010 after posting a 4-2 record with a 1.75 ERA in 27 appearances. He was second in C-USA with nine saves and recorded 36 strikeouts with only 11 walks in 46.1 innings pitched. With 22 saves over the past two seasons, he begins this year ranked third on the all-time Southern Miss save list. Vollmuth was a first team All-Conference USA selection and also earned spots on the C-USA All-Tournament team and the Auburn All-Regional team. In his first full season as a starter, he led the Golden Eagles with a .386 batting average, 91 hits, 76 runs scored, 20 home runs, 17 doubles and 76 RBI. Vollmuth also walked a team-best 43 times and posted a .729 slugging percentage (fourth in C-USA). He closed out the season by hitting 12 home runs in his final 14 games.

East Carolina matched Rice and Southern Miss for the most selections with three. Headlining the Pirates selections is preseason All-American RHP Seth Maness, the 2010 Conference USA Pitcher of the Year. He logged a league-high 101.1 innings over 15 starts and posted a conference second-best 10 wins. He registered 90 strikeouts and walked just 16 batters all season. The right-hander tossed one complete game and added a save in one of two relief appearances. Junior IF Corey Thompson and senior OF Trent Whitehead, the team’s top two hitters last season, were also named to the preseason squad. Thompson batted .377 with 16 doubles, eight home runs and 54 RBI, while Whitehead hit .331 with

Memphis had two players named to the team, while Marshall, Tulane and UAB had one apiece.

Junior OF Drew Martinez and junior IF Chad Zurcher, the Tigers’ 1-2 hitters in the order and by average last season, both are listed for Memphis. Martinez stole 19 bases, had a team-high 98 hits (.377 average), doubled 10 times and drove in 41 runs. Zurcher is the top returning hitter in C-USA (.396), swiped 20 bases, homered six times and drove in 41 runs.

Senior C Victor Gomez represents Marshall, sophomore IF Garrett Cannizaro is listed for Tulane and junior OF Jamal Austin is on the team from UAB. Gomez set the school record for career homers (46), RBI (172) and total bases (414) in 2010. During the 2010 campaign, he started all 58 games, while tallying a .364 batting average with team-highs of 15 doubles, 17 homers and 63 RBI. Cannizaro, a C-USA All-Freshman selection in 2010, is the only sophomore on the team. He batted .322 with 12 extra-base hits and 29 RBI in 54 games, posting 15 multi-hit outings. Austin led all Conference USA players with 28 stolen bases, topped UAB in batting at .364 and notched 13 doubles.

Conference USA’s 16th baseball season gets underway on February 18. The conference tournament is scheduled for May 25-29 at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. This will be the first time the tournament will be played at a neutral site, with an eight-team, pool-play format in place. C-USA’s nine baseball schools have produced 64 NCAA appearances and nine College World Series teams over the past 15 seasons.

(as selected by C-USA’s head coaches)
1. Rice (6)
2. Southern Miss (2)
3. East Carolina
4. UCF (1)
5. Tulane
6. Memphis
7. Houston
8. Marshall
9. UAB
(first place votes in parentheses)

Anthony Rendon, Rice (Junior, Third Baseman)
Todd McInnis, Southern Miss (Senior, Right-hander)
P Seth Maness Sr. East Carolina
P Todd McInnis Sr. Southern Miss
P Taylor Wall Jr. Rice
RP Collin Cargill Sr.. Southern Miss
C Victor Gomez Sr. Marshall
IF Garrett Cannizaro So. Tulane
IF Anthony Rendon Jr. Rice
IF Corey Thompson Jr. East Carolina
IF B.A. Vollmuth Jr. Southern Miss
IF Chad Zurcher Jr. Memphis
OF Jamal Austin Jr. UAB
OF Drew Martinez Jr. Memphis
OF Trent Whitehead Sr. East Carolina
DH/UT Jeremy Rathjen Jr. Rice

  • Davishouse

    from what I see UAB is predicted to finish dead last? why

    • Those are what the coaches picked not my prediction. We will be putting out a full C-USA preview soon!rnSent on the Sprintu00ae Now Network from my BlackBerryu00ae

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