C-USA Announces Baseball All-Conference Awards
May 20, 2014
In his first season in the league, FIU junior catcher Aramis Garcia was named Conference USA Player of the Year while UAB senior RHP Chase Mallard became the first Blazer to earn C-USA Pitcher of the Year honors, as the league's baseball awards were announced on Tuesday in Hattiesburg, Miss., site of the 2014 Conference USA Baseball Championship. FIU RHP Chris Mourelle was named Freshman of the Year, while Rice junior C John Clay Reeves gained Newcomer of the Year recognition. UAB head coach Brian Shoop was named the Keith LeClair Coach of the Year, while his aide, Josh Hopper became the inaugural winner of the Assistant Coach of the Year award.
Garcia was the preseason C-USA Co-Player of the Year, and followed that honor by hitting .355 this season with 13 doubles, seven home runs and 35 RBI. He is currently tied for second in Conference USA in batting average, leads the conference in slugging percentage (.588) and is third in on-base percentage (.428). Garcia's seven home runs rank second in in the league and his .592 slugging percentage and five home runs in C-USA games lead the conference. In addition, his four passed balls are near the top in C-USA for least amount allowed by a catcher. For the second straight year, he is one of 15 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the nation's top catcher.
Mallard owns a 9-2 record with a 1.32 ERA, the second-lowest mark in C-USA and just outside the top 10 nationally. He is third in Conference USA in strikeouts with 91 and is holding opponents to a league-low .188 batting average. Mallard has thrown a pair of shutouts and a pair of complete games. He became the first four-time Conference USA Pitcher of the Week since 2006 and enters the C-USA Championship with a nation's-best 16 consecutive quality start streak.
Mourelle leads all Conference USA freshmen and is tied for third among all pitchers in victories with nine, posting a 9-2 record with a 1.70 ERA (sixth-best in C-USA). He has tossed a pair of complete-game shutouts and was the starter in a third blanking of an opponent. Mourelle has allowed just 10 walks in 74.1 innings pitched, while striking out 35 batters. Opponents are batting just .238 against the right-hander.
Reeves has started 49 of Rice's 54 games, owns a team-best .477 slugging percentage and a .394 on-base average. The transfer from Navarro College has a .337 batting average with seven doubles, six home runs and 36 RBI. Reeves was twice named the C-USA Hitter of the Week (March 17 and April 20) and has tallied two or more hits in a game 16 times. An outstanding defensive catcher, head coach Wayne Graham entrusts Reeves to call the pitches in games. In 40 starts behind the plate, and Reeves calling the game, the Rice pitchers have a better team ERA (1.87) than in the 14 games where he was not the starting catcher (4.39 ERA). The Owls' record with Reeves catching is 31-9, and without him as the backstop is 6-8.
Shoop earned his first Conference USA Coach of the Year award after leading UAB to its best finish in 19 years as a member of Conference USA. The Blazers won 35 games, its most since the 1993 campaign and third-most in UAB history. The club won 20 games in Conference USA play, its highest total in league action in school history. The Blazers second-place finish in the regular season is their best finish as a league member. This is Shoop's fifth career conference Coach of the Year award, as he earned four such honors while at Birmingham-Southern.
As UAB's pitching coach, Hopper mentored one of the best staffs in the conference to earn the first Assistant Coach of the Year award. Blazer pitchers have combined to post a .237 opposing batting average, which would rank first in program history. The team ERA of 2.83, which ranks fourth in C-USA, is currently the best mark in UAB baseball history. It also marks a 2.46 improvement in ERA from 2013's finish of 5.29. UAB has registered 400 team strikeouts, which ranks third in UAB history.
Regular season champion Rice had the most total All-Conference selections with five, while UTSA was next with four. Rice placed a league-high four players on the first team, while East Carolina and Middle Tennessee both had three. Six of the league's teams had at least one representative on the first unit, while seven had second-team selections. East Carolina was the only school with multiple selections to the All-Freshman team, which included at least one player from 10 schools. Voting was done by a panel consisting of each head coach, each team's media relations director and a media representative from each city.
2014 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
ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR
FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF Skyler Ewing, Jr., Rice IF Shane Hoelscher, Sr., Rice IF Zach Houchins, Sr., East Carolina IF Trent Miller, Sr., Middle Tennessee OF Jared Allen, Jr., Middle Tennessee OF Michael Aquino, Sr., Rice OF Nick Walker, Fr., Old Dominion C Aramis Garcia, Jr., FIU DH/UT Drew Reynolds, Sr., East Carolina SP Zac Curtis, Sr., Middle Tennessee SP Mike Franco, Sr., FIU SP Blake Fox, So., Rice SP Chase Mallard, Sr., UAB RP Ryan Williams, Sr., East Carolina
SECOND TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF Josiah Burney, Sr., Old Dominion IF Stephen Kerr, Fr., Florida Atlantic IF RJ Perucki, Sr., UTSA IF Mike Warren, Sr., UTSA OF Chase Davis, Jr., UAB OF Brendon Sanger, So., Florida Atlantic OF John Welborn, Sr., UTSA C John Clay Reeves, Jr., Rice DH/UT Matt Durst, Jr., Southern Miss SP Conor Fisk, Sr., Southern Miss SP Alex Luna, Jr., UAB SP Brock Hartson, So., UTSA SP Chris Mourelle, Fr., FIU RP Bradley Roney, Jr., Southern Miss
1B Bryce Harman, East Carolina 2B Stephen Kerr, Florida Atlantic 2B T.J. Nichting, Charlotte 2B CJ Pickering, UTSA 2B Charlie Yorgen, East Carolina 3B Hunter Hope, Tulane OF Corey Bird, Marshall OF Dylan Burdeaux, Southern Miss OF Nick Walker, Old Dominion RHP Chris Mourelle, FIU RHP Jon Duplantier, Rice LHP Thomas Lowery, UAB