2009 Conference USA Baseball Awards
May 19, 2009
Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon became the first player in Conference USA history to be named Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year in the same season to headline the league's top individual awards, as announced on Tuesday in Hattiesburg, Miss., the site of the 2009 Conference USA Baseball Championship. Southern Miss sophomore right-hander Todd McInnis was named the league's Pitcher of the Year, while Newcomer of the Year honors went to East Carolina junior right-hander Chris Heston. The Keith LeClair Coach of the Year award returned to the East Carolina family, as Pirate head coach Billy Godwin won the award that is named for the former ECU skipper who courageously battled ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) before his passing in 2006. Voting was done by a panel consisting of each head coach, each team's sports information director and a media representative from each city.
Rendon has emerged as one of the top freshmen in the nation this spring. He leads Conference USA in slugging percentage (.701) and ranks second in batting average (.383), while also placing second in the league lead in home runs with a Rice freshman record 17, the most by an Owl player since 1999. Rendon has a team-high 58 RBI, has scored 48 runs and walked 25 times, helping him produce a squad-best .455 on-base percentage. Eleven of Rendon's 17 home runs have come in Conference USA play, where he batted .392 with 29 RBI and just nine strikeouts in 24 games.
McInnis has been the ace of the Southern Miss pitching staff this season, leading the squad in nearly every category. He owns a 7-4 record with a 2.78 ERA that ranks second in Conference USA. In 71.1 innings pitched, he has struck out 62 batters, while walking just 21. In eight C-USA starts, McInnis earned four wins, while posting a 2.51 ERA with 43 K's and just 13 walks. He becomes the first Southern Miss hurler to win C-USA Pitcher of the Year honors since the league's inception in 1996.
Heston, a transfer from Seminole College, becomes the second straight East Carolina pitcher to win the conference's Newcomer of the Year honor, following Justin Bristow last season. In 14 appearances (13 starts), Heston has posted a 7-0 record with a 3.44 ERA. He has a league-best 84 strikeouts and 29 walks in 81 innings pitched. In conference games he was 4-0 with 49 K's and 15 walks in 48.1 innings pitched.
Godwin guided the Pirates to their first regular season Conference USA title since 2004 and a top-20 national ranking heading into this week's conference championship. At 41-15, this is the third consecutive season that East Carolina has won 40 or more games under his leadership. Entering this week's play, Coastal Carolina (42) is the only team in the nation that has won more games than ECU.
In his fourth season at the helm of the Pirates, Godwin has posted a record of 156-85 (.647) and will be leading the Pirates to their third consecutive NCAA regional appearance. He arrived at ECU following six successful seasons at the helm of Louisburg (N.C.) College, where he won five Region X regular season championships and was named NJCAA Regional Coach of the Year in 2002.
Regular season champion East Carolina had the most total All-Conference selections with seven, including a league-best five first-teamers. Rice had six total All-Conference picks, while Houston had four and Tulane and UAB each produced three. Seven of the league's nine teams had at least one representative on the first team. Memphis, Rice and UCF led the way with two selections apiece to the All-Freshman team, which included at least one player from eight schools.
2009 CONFERENCE USA BASEBALL AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
KEITH LECLAIR COACH OF THE YEAR
FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE IF Victor Gomez, So., Marshall IF Sam Honeck, Sr., Tulane IF Anthony Rendon, Fr., Rice IF Ryan Wood, Sr., East Carolina OF Stephen Batts, Sr., East Carolina OF Bo Davis, Sr., Southern Miss OF Brint Hardy, Sr., UAB C Jeremy Schaffer, Fr., Tulane DH/UT Kyle Roller, Jr., East Carolina P Ryan Berry, Jr., Rice P Chris Heston, Jr., East Carolina P Seth Maness, So., East Carolina P Todd McInnis, So., Southern Miss RP Donnie Joseph, Jr., Houston
SECOND TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE IF Shane Brown, Jr., UCF IF Brian Dozier, Sr., Southern Miss IF Rick Hague, So., Rice IF Blake Kelso, So., Houston IF Josh Prince, Jr., Tulane OF Cody McMurry, Sr., UAB OF Chad Mozingo, So., Rice OF Brandon Romans, Sr., UCF OF Trent Whitehead, So., East Carolina C Chris Wallace, So., Houston DH/UT Digger Towe, Jr., UAB P Brad Mincey, So., East Carolina P Mike Ojala, Jr., Rice P Jared Ray, Jr., Houston P Dan Straily, Sr., Marshall RP Jordan Rogers, Sr., Rice
ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM Kevin Brandt, LHP, East Carolina Michael Goodnight, RHP, Houston Drew Martinez, OF, Memphis Adam McClain, 2B, Memphis Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice Taylor Wall, LHP, Rice Kameron Brunty, OF, Southern Miss Jeremy Schaffer, C, Tulane Jamal Austin, OF, UAB D.J. Hicks, DH/UT, UCF Beau Taylor, Fr., UCF