Seniors Zach Wright, Kevin Brandt and Corey Thompson named 2012 Preseason All-Conference USA.
Jan. 26, 2012
IRVING, Texas - East Carolina seniors Kevin Brandt (LHP), Corey Thompson (INF) and Zach Wright (C) have been named preseason First-Team All-Conference USA, as chosen by the league's nine head coaches.
Brandt, an all-conference performer in 2011, ranked among the league leaders (all games) in runner picked off (9/first), ERA (2.26/third), innings pitched (91.1/seventh), wins (7/t-7th) and opposing batting average (.239/eighth). The left-hander tossed his second career complete game against No. 21 Rice (Apr. 10) and combined on three shutouts, two coming in relief. He appeared in 19 games (11 starts) where he struck out 67 and walked 27.
The Fuquay Varina, N.C. native earned his third career C-USA Pitcher-of-the-Week award on March 21, 2011 after appearing in a pair of games where he struck out 18 batters in 12.2 innings surrendering one run (unearned) on five hits. Against Elon (Mar. 15), he worked 5.2 innings of relief with six punch-outs in a 4-3 victory. Brandt followed that outing with a career-best 12 strikeouts against Rutgers on Mar. 20, where he faced one over the minimum (22 batters). During the outing he fanned at least one hitter in all seven innings and had two punch-outs in four of seven frames.
Thompson, who earned C-USA All-Tournament honors a year ago, led the Pirates in hitting for the second-straight year batting .328 (75-for-229) with six home runs, 47 RBI, 11 doubles and scored 36 runs in 60 games. During the C-USA Championships in Pearl, Miss., Thompson batted a team-best .467 (7-for-15) with a home run and seven RBI. The Apex, N.C. native had multiple hits and drove in at least one run in all three games. In the tournament opener against Houston, Thompson was 2-for-5 with home run and three RBI. He followed that with three hits and another three-RBI performance in ECU's 4-2 win over Tulane, where his one-out double in the 11th inning proved to be the game-winning hit that plated Mike Ussery and Philip Clark. Thompson closed out the tournament with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate against No. 19 Southern Miss where he drove in a run with an RBI single in the fifth inning.
Wright rounds out the Pirates three preseason selections following a second-team all-conference designation a year ago. The two-time Johnny Bench Award Watch List Candidate led ECU in home runs for the second-straight season with 13 (ranking third in C-USA). As a junior he started all 62 games behind the plate batting .272 (62-for-228) with 39 RBI, 16 doubles, scored a team-best 47 runs and was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the sixth round (pick No. 211) of the 2011 Major League Baseball First Year Amateur Player Draft. Wright recorded five game-winning hits, three of which came in league play during ECU's final at-bat on home runs (Memphis/Feb. 26, UAB/Apr.3 and Marshall/May 6) and belted his fourth career grand slam against Campbell (Mar. 1), tying for Pirate Brandon Henderson (2006-09) for the all-time record.
Conference USA's 17th baseball season gets underway on February 17. The conference tournament is scheduled for May 23-27 at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. The five-day event is set up as an eight-team, pool play format. C-USA's nine baseball schools have produced 68 NCAA appearances and nine College World Series teams over the past 16 seasons.
2012 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS
(as selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (8)
2. UCF (1)
3. East Carolina
4. Southern Miss
(first place votes in parentheses)
D.J. Hicks, UCF (Junior, Designated Hitter/Pitcher)
Austin Kubitza, Rice (Sophomore, Right-hander)
P - Kevin Brandt - Sr. - East Carolina
P - Austin Kubitza - So. - Rice
P - Dillon Napoleon - Sr. - UAB
RP - Tyler Duffey - Jr. - Rice
C - Jeremy Schaffer - Sr. - Tulane
C - Zach Wright - Sr. - East Carolina
IF - Chase Jensen - Jr. - Houston
IF - Darnell Sweeney - Jr. - UCF
IF - Corey Thompson - Sr. - East Carolina
IF - Jacob Wilson - Sr. - Memphis
OF - Kameron Brunty - Sr. - Southern Miss
OF - Jeremy Rathjen - Jr. - Rice
OF - Michael Ratterree - Jr. - Rice
OF - Ronnie Richardson - Jr. - UCF
DH/UT - D.J. Hicks - Jr. - UCF