HOUSTON, Texas – Rice sophomore third baseman Anthony Rendon headlines the league’s top individual baseball awards, as announced on Tuesday in Houston, the site of the 2010 Conference USA Baseball Championship. One year after becoming the first Freshman to be named Player of the Year, he joins Tulane’s Jake Gautreau (2000, 2001) as just the second player in C-USA history to be named Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons.
East Carolina junior right-hander Seth Maness was named the league’s Pitcher of the Year, while Newcomer of the Year honors went to ECU junior right-hander Zach Woods, the third straight year that a Pirate pitcher has grabbed that honor. UCF infielder Chris Taladay was named Freshman of the Year, the first individual award for the Knights since beginning play in the league in 2006. The Keith LeClair Coach of the Year award went to Rice head coach Wayne Graham for the fourth time in five years. 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.
Rendon has followed his National Freshman of the Year season in 2009 with an even better all-around campaign in 2010. He batted .402 in conference play and is hitting .378 overall. He leads Conference USA in home runs with 22 and has had more homers than strikeouts (currently 19) all season long. Rendon ranks among the nation’s leaders in walks with 58 and maintains a .519 on-base percentage. He has 12 doubles and 72 RBI (second-most in C-USA), while posting a .786 slugging percentage.
Maness, the 2008 C-USA Freshman of the Year, has logged a league-high 93.2 innings over 14 starts and has posted a conference-best nine wins. He has registered 82 strikeouts and walked just 15 batters all season. Maness owns a 9-3 record on the season, which has moved him up to fourth place on Conference USA’s career chart with 27 victories, which includes a 17-3 mark vs. league opponents. He has one complete game this year and added a save in one of his two relief appearances.
Woods, a transfer from Louisburg College, follows ECU hurlers Chris Heston (2009) and Justin Bristow (2008) in garnering Newcomer of the Year recognition. He leads the league in strikeouts (95) and batters struck out looking (35), while ranking second in victories (8). Overall, Woods is 8-4 with a 4.73 ERA and one save in 83.2 innings pitched.
Taladay headlines an outstanding group of freshmen at UCF, ranking third in the conference in doubles with 19 and placing among the nation’s top 20 freshmen in batting average at .352. He recorded 74 hits, hit eight home runs and drove in 47 runs. Taladay registered 22 multiple-hit games, 13 multiple-RBI outings and notched four hits in a game five times.
Graham guided Rice to its fourth regular season Conference USA title in the last five years. The regular season crown gave the 21st-ranked Owls a conference championship (regular season or tournament) for the 15th consecutive season, dating back to the final year of the Southwest Conference in 1995. In his 17th season at the helm of the Rice program, Graham has now won nine conference Coach of the Year honors.
Regular season champion Rice had the most total All-Conference selections with seven, followed by East Carolina, Memphis and Southern Miss with four. Southern Miss had the most first team choices with four, followed by Marshall with three. Seven of the league’s nine teams had at least one representative on the first team. Tulane and UCF led the way with three selections apiece to the All-Freshman team, which included at least one player from eight schools.
2010 CONFERENCE USA BASEBALL AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Anthony Rendon, So., 3B, Rice
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Seth Maness, Jr., RHP, East Carolina
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Chris Taladay, Fr., IF, UCF
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Zach Woods, Jr., RHP, East Carolina
KEITH LECLAIR COACH OF THE YEAR
Wayne Graham, Rice
FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF Anthony Rendon, So., Rice
IF Rob Segedin, So., Tulane
IF Luke Stewart, Sr., UAB
IF B.A. Vollmuth, So., Southern Miss
OF Shane Brown, Sr., UCF
OF Chris Duffy, Sr., UCF
OF Kurt Lipton, Sr., Marshall
C Victor Gomez, Jr., Marshall
DH/UT Kyle Roller, Sr., East Carolina
P Scott Copeland, Sr., Southern Miss
P Seth Maness, Jr., East Carolina
P Todd McInnis, Jr., Southern Miss
P Arik Sikula, Jr., Marshall
RP Collin Cargill, Jr., Southern Miss
SECOND TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF Jimmy Comerota, Sr., Rice
IF Rick Hague, Jr., Rice
IF Jonathan Merritt, Sr., UAB
IF Corey Thompson, So., East Carolina
IF Chad Zurcher, So., Memphis
OF Jamal Austin, So., UAB
OF Tyler Huelsing, Sr., Memphis
OF Drew Martinez, So. Memphis
C Diego Seastrunk, Sr., Rice
DH/UT Jeremy Rathjen, So., Rice
P Ryan Fraser, Sr., Memphis
P Mike Ojala, Sr., Rice
P Taylor Wall, So., Rice
P Zach Woods, Jr., East Carolina
RP Nick Pepitone, Jr., Tulane
Brandon Boudreaux, OF, Tulane
Garrett Cannizaro, SS, Tulane
M.P. Cokinos, C/DH, Houston
Blake Crohan, UT, Tulane
Dillon Day, OF, Southern Miss
John Frost, UT, UAB
Kirby Pellant, 2B, Marshall
Michael Ratterree, 2B, Rice
Joe Rogers, LHP, UCF
Darnell Sweeney, SS, UCF
Chris Taladay, IF, UCF
John Wooten, SS, East Carolina