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Baseball Opens Practice Friday; C-USA Preseason Awards Named

Kameron Brunty

Kameron Brunty

Jan. 26, 2012

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss baseball program will begin its formal preparation for the 2012 season when they open practice Friday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.

Just prior to the start of practice, Conference USA released its preseason poll and all-league team on Thursday. Golden Eagle outfielder Kameron Brunty was the only Southern Miss player to make the team, while the was finished to place fourth in the league standings by its nine head coaches. Southern Miss came in behind Rice, UCF and East Carolina.

The Golden Eagles, which earned their ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance last spring and 12th overall on the strength of a 39-19 record a year ago as well as co-champs for the C-USA regular season, will have some jobs up for grabs this spring as third-year coach Scott Berry will look to replace four position player starters, three starting pitchers and a closer.

"We look forward to continuing the progress that we started during the fall season," said Berry. "We have some jobs to fill heading into the season and we are looking for some of our returning guys to increase their roles as well as our new players to be ready to play at this level as we enter another challenging season in Conference USA."

The 2012 roster features 34 players including five seniors. The current senior class includes Brunty, infielder Ashley Graeter, as well as right-handed pitchers Chase Horn, Josh Thomason and Matt Warren.

Southern Miss, though, will be dominated by underclassmen during the upcoming season as the squad features six sophomores and 16 freshmen. The freshmen class does not come without talent as it was voted the No. 3 recruiting class by Baseball America and as well as No. 13 by the publication Collegiate Baseball.

Practice begins at 2:30 p.m., and the public is invited to attend.

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
5. Houston
6. Tulane
7. Memphis
8. UAB
9. Marshall
(first place votes in parentheses)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
D.J. Hicks, UCF (Junior, Designated Hitter/Pitcher)

PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Austin Kubitza, Rice (Sophomore, Right-hander)

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
P - Kevin Brand, 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

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