Jan. 31, 2009

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Rice Ranks No. 1 in C-USA Preseason Poll

Lape, Maness named Preseason Players of the Year


After three straight trips to the College World Series, Rice rates the top spot in the Conference USA preseason poll in voting by the league’s head coaches and released by the conference office.


Marshall senior outfielder Nate Lape (left) was voted Preseason Player of the Year, while East Carolina sophomore right-hander Seth Maness was named Preseason Pitcher of the Year.


Lape hit .388 a season ago for the Thundering Herd with 62 runs, 83 hits, 17 doubles, 17 homers and 63 RBI.


The Rice Owls return six position starters, eight pitchers and 16 lettermen from last season’s 47-15 team. Rice is seeking its 14th consecutive conference crown. Junior right-hander Ryan Berry (8-5, 3.63) leads the pitching staff. Junior catcher Diego Seastrunk led the Owls in 2008 with a .353 batting average and 61 RBI.

East Carolina was 42-21 a year ago and was selected second in the preseason poll. The Pirates earned their ninth NCAA Tournament bid in the past 10 seasons. ECU brings back 22 lettermen, led by Maness. The conference Freshman of the Year in 2008, Maness was 9-2 with a 3.57 ERA. He struck out 81 and walked 20 in 98.1 innings.

Southern Miss sits in third in the preseason poll after its sixth straight NCAA Regional. The Golden Eagles have six starters and 16 lettermen back, including senior shortstop Brian Dozier (.342, 17 2B, 46 RBI) and senior second baseman James Ewing (.359, 13 2B, 46 RBI).

The season begins on Friday, Feb. 20. The top eight teams will participate in the conference tournament May 20-24 at Southern Miss’ Hill Denson Field at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss.

2009 Conference USA Preseason Poll

Rank, School (First Place Votes) Points
1. Rice (9) 81
2. East Carolina 67
3. Southern Miss 62
4. Tulane 55
5. Houston 49

Preseason Player of the Year: Nate Lape, Marshall (Senior, Outfielder)
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Seth Maness, East Carolina (Sophomore, RHP)

Preseason All-Conference Team

P - Ryan Berry, Jr., Rice
P - Seth Maness, So., East Carolina
P - Wes Musick, Jr., Houston
RP - Chase Dempsay, So., Houston
C - Diego Seastrunk, Jr., Rice
INF - Brian Dozier, Jr., Southern Miss
INF - James Ewing, Sr., Southern Miss
INF - Rick Hague, So., Rice
INF - Seth Henry, Sr., Tulane
INF - Adam Yeager, Sr., Marshall
OF - Stephen Batts, Jr., East Carolina
OF - Brint Hardy, Jr., UAB
OF - Nate Lape, Sr., Marshall
DH/UTIL - Rob Segedin, So., Tulane

(photo courtesy of Marshall Media Relations Office)