May 22, 2012
Memphis senior third baseman Jacob Wilson headlines the league's top individual baseball awards, as announced on Tuesday in Pearl, Miss., the site of the 2012 Conference USA Baseball Championship presented by Trustmark. He is the second consecutive Tiger to be named Player of the Year in Conference USA, following Chad Zurcher's selection last season.
Rice senior right-hander Matthew Reckling was named the league's Pitcher of the Year, the first Owl to win that award since Ryne Tacker in 2007. Newcomer of the Year honors went to Southern Miss junior right-hander Andrew Pierce, while Golden Eagles pitcher/outfielder Mason Robbins was named Freshman of the Year, the first time USM has won either of those awards. The Keith LeClair Coach of the Year award went to Rice Hall of Fame head coach Wayne Graham, the fifth time he has won in seven seasons in C-USA. The award that is named for the former East Carolina 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.
Wilson is batting .326, leads the league in home runs (16), total bases (134) and slugging percentage (.623) and is second with 62 RBI. He is tied for the team in doubles with 16, has 23 multiple-hit and 16 multiple-RBI games. Wilson, who had a league-best seven homers and 29 RBI in conference play, will enter the C-USA Championship on a nine-game hitting streak. In the regular season finale, Wilson moved to second in program history with 185 RBI in his career and he also moved into second place all-time with 166 runs scored.
Reckling is a veteran who has emerged as Rice's Friday night starter and helped the Owls to their No. 5 national ranking and C-USA regular-season title. He is tied for the league lead in victories with eight and also ranks among the C-USA leaders in ERA (eighth at 2.85) and strikeouts (third with 92). Reckling averages 10.3 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and has held all hitters to a composite .178 batting average on the season, lowest in the league. He was named C-USA Pitcher of the Week three times, more than any other player this season.
Pierce is a two-time C-USA Pitcher of the Week that emerged as the ace of the Golden Eagles staff in his first season in Hattiesburg. He has posted a 7-3 record with a 1.74 earned run average, second-lowest in C-USA. Pierce has thrown two complete games and been a part of three shutouts, including one in which he went the distance. He has registered 94 strikeouts (second in the conference), while issuing just 15 walks.
Robbins leads Southern Miss in hitting at .332, slugging percentage (.475) and triples (5). He has 10 doubles, three home runs and 36 RBI, while stealing six bases in seven attempts. Robbins has also made nine pitching appearances, including five starts. On the mound, he is 1-0 with a 4.13 ERA in 28.1 innings pitched.
Graham guided Rice to its sixth regular season Conference USA title in the last seven years. The regular season crown gave the fifth-ranked Owls a conference championship (regular season or tournament) for the 17th consecutive season, dating back to the final year of the Southwest Conference in 1995. In his 19th season at the helm of the Rice program, Graham has now won 10 conference Coach of the Year honors.
Regular season champion Rice had the most first team All-Conference selections with four, while East Carolina, Tulane and UCF had the most total selections with six. Memphis had three first-team selections, while ECU, Tulane and UCF all had two. Six of the league's nine teams had at least one representative on the first team. Southern Miss led the way with four selections to the All-Freshman team, which included at least one player from eight schools.
2012 CONFERENCE USA BASEBALL AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jacob Wilson, Sr., 3B, Memphis
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Matthew Reckling, Sr., RHP, Rice
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Mason Robbins, Fr., OF/LHP, Southern Miss
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Andrew Pierce, Jr., RHP, Southern Miss
KEITH LECLAIR COACH OF THE YEAR
Wayne Graham, Rice
FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF D.J. Hicks, Jr., UCF
IF Christian Stringer, Jr., Rice
IF Jacob Wilson, Sr., Memphis
IF John Wooten, Jr., East Carolina
OF Brandon Boudreaux, Jr., Tulane
OF Adam McClain., Sr., Memphis
OF Jeremy Rathjen, Jr., Rice
C Jeremy Schaeffer, Sr., Tulane
DH/UT J.T. Chargois, Jr., Rice
P Kevin Brandt, Sr., East Carolina
P Dan Langfield, Jr., Memphis
P Andrew Pierce, Jr., Southern Miss
P Matthew Reckling, Sr., Rice
RP Joe Rogers, Sr., UCF
SECOND TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF Ashley Graeter, Sr., Southern Miss
IF Brennan Middleton, Jr., Tulane
IF Travis Shreve, Sr., UCF
IF Corey Thompson, Sr., East Carolina
OF Alex Friedrich, Sr., UCF
OF Ronnie Richardson, Jr., UCF
OF Nick Schneeberger,Sr., Tulane
C Zach Wright, Sr., East Carolina
DH/UT Drew Reynolds, So., East Carolina
P Jharel Cotton, Jr., East Carolina
P Ben Lively, So., UCF
P Sam Moll, So., Memphis
P David Napoli, Jr., Tulane
RP D.J. Ponder, Sr., Tulane
IF Sergio Leon, Marshall
IF Ford Stainback, Rice
OF Michael Pyeatt, Houston
OF Jeff Schalk, UAB
OF Michael Sterling, Southern Miss
OF/P Mason Robbins, Southern Miss
P Jeff Hoffman, East Carolina
P Jordan Stephens, Rice
P Jake Drehoff, Southern Miss
P Bradley Roney, Southern Miss
P Alex Massey, Tulane
P Eric Skoglund, UCF