Conference USA Weekend Preview (April 11th-13th)

Southern Miss (19-15, 8-4)-UAB (23-10, 9-3)

Southern Miss won their weekend series over MTSU last weekend, taking a big jump forward in the CUSA standings, but then they lost to SEC-foe Mississippi State 4-3 during the week. The offense is hitting a mediocre .243, while the pitching staff has a respectable 3.49 ERA. Conor Fisk has come on as of late for Southern Miss and now leads all starters with a 2.21 ERA, and he’s struck out 48 batters in 40.2 innings pitched.

UAB is coming off a sweep over La Tech on the road, which put them in first place in the CUSA standings. They then went on the road during the week to take down #16 Alabama 2-1. The offense is hitting a solid .266, but it’s the pitching staff that runs this team with an ERA of 2.65. Chase Mallard leads that staff with a 0.91 ERA, striking out 58 batters in 59.2 innings. Alex Luna isn’t far behind him with a 0.97 ERA in 46.1 innings.

Probable Starters

Friday, 6:30 p.m. CT – Christian Talley vs. Chase Mallard

Saturday, 2 p.m. CT – Conor Fisk vs. Alex Luna

Sunday, 1 p.m. CT – Cameron Giannini vs. Johnny Lieske

 

East Carolina (20-13, 8-4)-Old Dominion (20-14, 8-7)

ECU is coming off a HUGE weekend series win over Rice, as well as a mid-week victory over N.C. State. They now find themselves near the top of the CUSA standings. The offense has been steady all season, hitting .271, while the pitching staff has been good as well with an ERA of 2.69. Zach Houchins leads the offense with a .341 average, while Jeff Hoffman is the pitcher to watch. While he’s had some ups-and-downs this season, he proved in last week’s win over Rice why he’s a top prospect, tossing 8 innings of 1-run ball, while striking out 7.

Old Dominion is coming off a big weekend series win of their own over FIU to put them back in the conversation. The offense has been big all year with a .280 average and 13 home runs. The pitching has kept them in games with a 3.33 ERA. P.J. Higgins leads the offense with a .342 average, 25 runs and 22 RBIs. Andy Roberts is 3-0 with a 2.72 ERA in 43 innings.

Probable Starters

Friday, 6 p.m. ET – Jeff Hoffman vs. Ryan Yarbrough

Saturday, 3 p.m. ET – Reid Love vs. Tommy Alexander

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET – David Lucroy vs. Andy Roberts

 

Rice (23-12, 10-5)-Tulane (14-17, 6-8)

Rice has now dropped back-to-back CUSA series, but will look to rebound against Tulane this weekend after picking up an impressive win over Texas during the week. The offense is third in the league in average at .285, while the pitching staff is second in ERA at 2.37. John Clay Reeves leads the Owls offense with a .357 average to go along with 2 home runs and 24 RBIs. Blake Fox is an impressive 7-0 with a 0.99 ERA, while top prospect Zech Lemond is 3-0 with a 1.34 ERA, striking out 48 batters in 47 innings.

Tulane dropped 2-out-of-3 against UTSA last weekend and have lost six of their last seven games. The offense has really struggled this season as they’re last in the conference with a .225 average. The pitching hasn’t been much better with a 3.81 ERA. Randy LeBlanc and Tyler Mapes have been bright spots in the rotation. LeBlanc has a 2.17 ERA in 8 starts, while Mapes has a 2.18 ERA in 7 starts.

Friday, 6:30 p.m. CT – Zech Lemond vs. Tyler Mapes

Saturday, 2 p.m. CT – Blake Fox vs. Randy LeBlanc

Sunday, 1 p.m. CT – Chase McDowell vs. Emerson Gibbs

 

Marshall (13-18, 7-7)-UTSA (22-11, 8-4)

Marshall is hot right now, winning seven of their last nine games bringing them back to .500 in CUSA play. The offense has struggled all year though as their average sits at just .227, second to last in the conference. The pitching hasn’t been horrible, but it hasn’t been great either with an ERA just under 4.

UTSA is coming off a weekend series win over Tulane, as well as a mid-week win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The offense ranks second in the CUSA in average at .288, and they’re tied for second in home runs with 14. The pitching staff has been just as dominant this year with an ERA of 2.64, striking out 261 batters in 300 innings. Mike Warren leads the team in RBIs with 34 to go along with a .333 average. Brock Hartson has a 2.13 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 50.2 innings pitched.

Probable Starters

Friday, 7 p.m. ET – Michael Taylor vs. Brock Hartson

Saturday, 3 p.m. ET – Matt Margaritonda vs. Nolan Trabanino

Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET – TBA vs. Justin Anderson

 

FIU (24-9, 8-7)-La Tech (9-21, 3-12)

FIU has scuffled a little as of late losing five of its last eight games, including losing two CUSA weekend series in a row that has dropped them back to the middle of the pack in the standings. Despite their struggles, they still lead the conference in both average (.300) and ERA (1.89). Aramis Garcia leads the offense with 5 home runs and 29 RBIs to go along with a .366 average. Friday night starter Mike Franco has a 1.05 ERA in 8 starts, striking out 64 batters in 51.2 innings.

La Tech has been swept in two straight CUSA weekend series and has really fallen back in the standings. The offense has been decent with a .254 average, but the pitching staff has been bad this year, ranking last in the conference with a 5.09 ERA. Taylor Love is the Bulldogs top hitter with a .345 average.

Friday, 6 p.m. CT – Mike Franco vs. Phil Maton

Saturday, 3 p.m. CT – Cody Crouse vs. Adam Derouen

Sunday, 11 a.m. CT – Chris Mourelle vs. Richie Navari

 

Charlotte (8-22, 1-11)-Florida Atlantic (17-15, 5-10)

Charlotte got out of CUSA last weekend, but dropped three games to a good Evansville baseball team. They rank third from last in the conference in both average (.242) and ERA (4.07). The bright side, they’re running into a team that has been just as cold as them.

FAU has lost eight of its last 11 games and has dropped their past three CUSA weekend series. They’ve done this despite being in the middle of the pack in average at .275 as well as in ERA at 2.88. Drew Jackson has been their best starter so far this season with a 4-0 record, 2.52 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 50 innings.

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET – Cory Roberts vs. Austin Gomber

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET – Ryan Butler vs. Drew Jackson

Sunday, 12 p.m. ET – Brock Hudgens vs. Jeremy Strawn

 

Mississippi Valley (1-25)-Middle Tennessee (15-18, 8-7)

Probable Starters

Friday, 6 p.m. – Blake Thomas vs. Zac Curtis

Saturday, 4 p.m. – Connor Sheppeard vs. Paul Mittura

Sunday, 1 p.m. – Jonathan Parker vs. Jonathan Frebis