IRVING, Texas – Conference USA announced its 2013 preseason awards on Wednesday, as chosen by the leagues nine head coaches. Junior pitcher Sam Moll was named to the preseason All-Conference USA squad, while the Tigers were picked to finish sixth in the league’s preseason poll.
“There are some tremendous pitching staffs in this league and you don’t have a four or five bid league without that outstanding pitching,” head coach Daron Schoenrock said. “For Sam to be selected as one of those elite pitchers is an outstanding honor. As you look at the traditional pitching powers in this league, it is a league that is committed to pitching. It is a great honor to have a Memphis pitcher garner preseason accolades.”
Moll finished 2012 with a 5-5 record and a 3.48 ERA. The second team All-C-USA selection posted a one-hit shutout at Marshall last season and in a six-game stretch he allowed five earned runs over 44.2 innings. The southpaw enters his junior season with an 8-6 record and 3.24 career ERA. Last season, Moll ranked fourth in C-USA with 95.2 innings pitched. Moll is the first Tiger pitcher to earn C-USA preseason honors since Drew Jaudon was named to the team in 2006.
“We are very excited about the progress Sam has made as a college pitcher,” Schoenrock said. “He has elevated his ability to change speeds and show hitters different looks. He had a great summer in the Cape Cod League and he has bought into what (pitching) coach Fred Corral has asked him to do. We look forward to him leading our staff this year.”
Picked to finish sixth in the league standings, the Tigers return 20 letterwinners from the 2012 squad that posted a 31-28 record and advanced to the C-USA Tournament championship game. Among the 20 letterwinners are five position players. That group consists of Derrick Thomas (.273 AVG, 12 2B, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 20-24 SB-ATT), Ethan Gross (.251 AVG, 7 2B, 19 RBI), Ford Wilson (.245 AVG, 5 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI), Zach Willis (.248 AVG, 8 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI) and Keaton Aldridge (.231 AVG, 3 2B, 9 RBI).
On the mound, Memphis returns two starters in Moll and Michael Wills (4-2, 4.73 ERA, 70.1 IP, 12 GS, 21 BB, 43 SO). The bullpen features closer Jonathan Van Eaton (6-2, 1.58 ERA, 8 SV, 40.0 IP, 19 BB, 33 SO), Dylan Toscano (0-0, 3.05 ERA, 20.2 IP, 13 BB, 19 SO) and Jacob Moody (0-0, 5.79 ERA, 9.1 IP, 12 BB, 11 SO). Erik Schoenrock (2-2, 5.33 ERA, 27.0 IP, 3 GS, 20 BB, 26 SO) is expected to make transistion from spot starter and bullpen arm to weekend starter this season. In all, the Tigers return 12 pitchers and will field a total of 11 newcomers on opening day.
“You look at what we lost on paper, we lost a lot of offensive production and that is a glaring stat going into this season,” Schoenrock said. “Being in the trenches with this team every day and seeing the progress we have made, we have a number of guys who played every day, but maybe didn’t produce in a big way because they were young. I am excited with what we are seeing on the field and I know this team is ready to let the decisions to be made on the field. We control what we do every day and this team seems up for the challenge in what lies ahead.”
Rice junior pitcher Austin Kubitza was chosen as the preseason Pitcher of the Year and Owls infielder Christian Stringer was the preseason Player of the Year choice. Rice garnered seven first place votes to top the league’s predicted order of finish. Southern Miss placed three players on the preseason all-conference team and was picked second in the poll. Rice and Southern Miss are followed by East Carolina, UCF, Tulane, Memphis, Houston, UAB and Marshall to complete the preseason poll.
The Tigers open the season on Feb. 15 at FedExPark against Illinois State. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. as the 100th year of Tiger Baseball begins. That contest marks the first of a seven-game homestand to open the season and is the first of five-straight weekends on the home field.
The 2013 C-USA Baseball Tournament is slated for May 22-26 in Houston, Texas at Rice’s Reckling Park.
2013 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS
(as selected by C-USA’s head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
- Rice (7)
- Southern Miss (1)
- East Carolina
- Tulane (1)
(first place votes in parentheses)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Christian Stringer, Rice (Senior, Infielder)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Austin Kubitza, Rice (Junior, Right-hander)
P Austin Kubitza Jr. Rice
P Sam Moll Jr. Memphis
P Andrew Pierce Sr. Southern Miss
RP Bradley Roney So. Southern Miss
C Ryan Breen Sr. UCF
IF Garrett Cannizaro Sr. Tulane
IF Brennan Middleton Sr. Tulane
IF Jack Reinheimer Jr. East Carolina
IF Christian Stringer Sr. Rice
IF Chris Taladay Sr. UCF
OF Landon Appling Jr. Houston
OF Brandon Boudreaux Sr. Tulane
OF Michael Ratterree Sr. Rice
OF Mason Robbins So. Southern Miss
DH/UT Drew Reynolds Jr. East Carolina