Baseball Tabbed Sixth in C-USA's Preseason Poll
Jan. 18, 2007
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Despite returning seven position starters and its three weekend starters on the mound from last years team that finished with the nation's second-best turnaround, Head coach Daron Schoenrock's Tiger baseball team was picked to finish sixth in the Conference USA preseason poll. Returning starters first baseman Adam Amar, who was tabbed an NCBWA preseason All-American in November of 2006, and 2006 All-C-USA outfielder K.K. Chalmers were named to the preseason All-conference team.
"Top to bottom Conference USA is going to be an experienced league," said Schoenrock. "With key contributors returning on every team, staying healthy will be the key for any club if they are going to challenge Rice for the C-USA title."
Memphis returns 20 letterwiners from last year's squad the finished 32-28 and advanced to the C-USA Tournament for the first time since 2001. Included in those 20 lettermen are seven position starters, the starting DH and its top four starters. Led by Amar's league-best .395 batting average, the Tigers tied Rice for the league's team batting title with a .315 clip. Memphis finished fourth in C-USA regular-season play after being picked to finish eighth.
Coming off a trip to the College World Series, Rice has been selected as the unanimous preseason favorite in the 2007 Conference USA baseball poll, chosen by the league's nine head coaches. The Owls, who return 18 letterwinners seven position starters and 11 experienced pitchers from last year's 57-13 club, have been ranked No.1 in the three major preseason polls that have been released this season, after spending the majority of last season as the top-ranked team in the land. Owls junior pitcher/infielder Joe Savery, a consensus preseason All-American, is the Preseason C-USA Player of the Year. Rice hurler Cole St.Clair, who will move from the bullpen to starting duty this spring, was named as the league's preseason Pitcher of the Year. In addition to Savery, shortstop Brian Friday and outfielders Tyler Henley and Aaron Luna earned All-C-USA recognition.
"With the national attention Rice is getting, it solidifies Conference USA as on of the top baseball conferences in the country" Schoenrock said.
Picked to finish second, Tulane returns 23 lettermen, including eight starters, from last year's team and adds 10 newcomers. The Green Wave earned its ninth straight NCAA Regionals berth and finishing with a 43-17 record in 2006. Junior starter Sean Morgan and senior closer Daniel Latham are joined by infielder Brad Emaus and outfielder Warren McFadden, the 2006 C-USA Freshman of the Year, on the squad.
Houston, which is coming off an NCAA appearance and welcomes back 15 lettermen and eight starters, was picked to finish third according to the league's coaches. Two Cougars, pitcher Ricky Hargrove and catcher/pitcher Luis Flores, are listed on the preseason All-Conference team.
Southern Miss, which has made four consecutive NCAA appearances, was chosen fourth, just ahead of East Carolina. The Golden Eagles are represented on the preseason team by junior shortstop Trey Sutton.
The Tigers check in at sixth, followed by UCF, UAB and Marshall. UCF returns 18 letterwinners after failing to make the league tournament in its inaugural season. Under new head coach Brian Shoop, UAB retains 21 letterwinners while bringing in 15 new faces. Marshall made the C-USA Championships in its first year of league play, but has been picked as the odd man out this year. Under first year head coach Jeff Waggoner, the Herd returns 16 letterwinners, including just two starters, from its squad that went 22-32 overall and 6-18 in C-USA action in 2006. Marshall DH/utility player Brendan Murphy was named to the preseason team.
Memphis will get its third season under Schoenrock underway on Feb. 20 when the Tigers travel to Oxford, Miss. for a meeting with preseason No. 11 Ole Miss.
2007 PRESEASON BASEBALL COACHES POLL (as selected by C-USA's head coaches)