IRVING, TX (WLBT) - Conference USA has announced its 2019 preseason baseball awards, as chosen by the league’s 12 head coaches. Southern Miss junior outfielder/pitcher Matt Wallner has been chosen as the preseason Player of the Year for the second straight season, while Rice junior right-hander Matt Canterino was named the preseason Pitcher of the Year. Southern Miss was chosen as the favorite to win the league’s championship. The Golden Eagles won the C-USA regular season and tournament titles last season.
Wallner, the 2017 National Freshman of the Year by most national media organizations, finished last spring with a .351 batting average with 13 doubles, to go along with team highs of 16 home runs and 67 RBI. He walked 48 times to have an on-base percentage of .474, while his slugging was at .618. The Golden Eagle outfielder also blasted a team-best three grand slams during the year. Wallner also made 12 appearances on the mound, picking up six saves.
Wallner earned All-American honors by multiple organizations following the 2018 spring campaign, including a second-team accolade by the NCBWA (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) in the outfield and was a third-team selection at designated hitter by D1Baseball.com as well as a third-team pick by the ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Association).
Joining Wallner on the preseason All-Conference team are three Southern Miss teammates including senior first baseman Hunter Slater (.309, 30 BB, 12 HR, 55 RBI), senior right-handed pitcher Walker Powell (7-3, 3.80 ERA, 83.0 IP, 62 K, 14 BB) and senior left-handed pitcher Stevie Powers (5-2, 4.07 ERA, 73.0 IP, 73K, 13 BB). The Golden Eagles four preseason All-Conference choices are the most of any school.
The 2019 Conference USA baseball season begins Friday, February 15.
2019 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS
(as selected by C-USA’s head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Southern Miss (8)
2. Louisiana Tech (2)
3. Florida Atlantic (1)
4. Rice (1)
9. Old Dominion
12. Middle Tennessee
(first place votes in parentheses)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Matt Wallner, Southern Miss (Junior, OF/P)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Matt Canterino, Rice (Junior, RHP)
SP Logan Bailey Sr. Louisiana Tech
SP Matt Canterino Jr. Rice
SP Walker Powell Jr. Southern Miss
SP Stevie Powers Sr. Southern Miss
RP Zach Schneider Sr. Florida Atlantic
C Rey Pastrana Sr. Marshall
IF Bryan Arias Sr. UTSA
IF Hunter Slater Sr. Southern Miss
IF Austin Shenton Jr. FIU
IF Hunter Wells Jr. Louisiana Tech
OF Parker Bates Jr. Louisiana Tech
OF Blake Benefield Sr. Middle Tennessee
OF Matt Wallner Jr. Southern Miss
DH/UT Logan Allen So. FIU