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The 10th Inning (Preseason Honors)

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With the start of the collegiate baseball season right around the corner, I thought today would be a good time to recap some preseason honors for the 2011 East Carolina Pirates.

Earlier today, College Baseball Insider released its annual Conference USA Preview and ECU's own Seth Maness was tabbed as one of the Top-3 starting pitchers in the league for the second-straight season, as voted on by the league's coaches in a survey.

Maness has been named to three preseason all-america teams already garnering second-team honors by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and third-team designations by Collegiate Baseball and College Baseball Lineup (formerly Ping!Baseball). He was named preseason first-team All C-USA by the league coaches for the third-consecutive year and Collegiate Baseball tabbed him as the Preseason Pitcher-of-the-Year.

The 2010 Conference USA Pitcher-of-the-Year logged a league-high 101.1 innings over 17 appearances (15 starts) and posted a conference second-best 10 wins. He registered 90 strikeouts and walked just 16 batters all season, both ranking among the league leaders. The right-hander tossed one complete game and added a save in one of two relief appearances.

A three-time first-team All-C-USA performer, Maness earned all-tournament honors after posting his 10th win of the season during the 2010 C-USA Championship against Southern Miss, where he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Tyler Koelling. Maness shook off the bump in the road to remain effective throughout his time toeing the rubber, giving up just one unearned run on five hits in 7.2 innings.

The Pinehurst, N.C. native, who has not allowed a run in 251.2 of his 306.2 career innings, owns an 18-3 career mark against C-USA teams (142 Ks in 185.1 IP) and has 28 career wins, which ranks fourth all-time in C-USA history and tied for fourth in the ECU career record book. During his career with the Pirates Maness has fanned 254 batters while walking just 54, a 4.7-to-1 ratio.

Joining Maness with preseason honors is fellow classmate Trent Whitehead, who was also named preseason first-team All C-USA by the league coaches. The Washington, N.C. native holds the school's single-season hits record with 105 (2009) and is 92 base hits away from setting the all-time school record (301 by Steve Salargo/1996-99). During his career, he has started 142 of 174 games and boasts a .343 career average (seventh all-time at ECU heading into 2011).

Junior infielder Corey Thompson was the third Pirate to garner first-team All C-USA honors by the league coaches. Last year Thompson led the Pirates with a .377 average (seventh in C-USA), while also topping the squad in hits (86), runs (61), triples (3), RBI (54) and total bases (132) on his way to second-team All C-USA honors. He earned C-USA Hitter-of-the-Week honors and Primetime Performer honors on March 1 after helping the Pirates to their first ever series win over No. 10 South Carolina where he batted .438 (7-for-16) with six RBI. On April 30 he became the fifth Pirate since 1999 to hit for the cycle with his 4-for-5 effort against Marshall.

Seth Simmons was one of 45 relief pitchers named to the initial watch list for the Seventh Annual NCBWA Stopper-of-the-Year Award, which is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.

The Lewisville, N.C. native appears on the list for the second-straight season as he begins his third year as the Pirates closer. He opens the 2011 season with 20 saves, ranking second on ECU's and 10th on C-USA's all-time saves list.

Last year he held opposing hitters to a .252 average, struck out 44, walked 25 and allowed 20 earned runs on 39 hits in 41.0 innings. He recorded nine saves, tying his career-high mark (2009) to rank fourth all-time on ECU's single-season chart.

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