The Conference USA preseason baseball poll, released on Thursday, predicted FAU will finish third in league play this season behind No. 1 Southern Miss and No. 2 Louisiana Tech.
That’s the same order all three teams finished last season.
“Preseason polls are great to talk about, but they have no bearing on how the season plays out,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “I appreciate that the other coaches think we have a good team, but we still have to do it on the field.”
Defending champion Southern Miss received eight of the 12 first-place votes. Louisiana Tech nabbed two votes, with FAU and Rice – picked to finish fourth – each receiving a vote.
Individually, FAU closer Zach Schneider is the lone Owl selected as a Preseason All-Conference USA performer. Schneider led C-USA with 15 saves last season. He posted a 7-1 record with a 2.08 ERA in 2018, his first season at FAU.
“Congrats to Zach being named to the All-C-USA Preseason team,” McCormack said. “It is a well-deserved honor. It is always nice to be recognized by the other coaches in league.”
FAU went 43-19-1 last season, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament’s Gainesville regional and coming within a victory of advancing the the Super Regional.
This year’s Owls won’t look much like last season’s version. The Owls lost six players to the 2018 MLB draft, highlighted by shortstop Tyler Frank, taken by Tampa Bay in the 2nd round. Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year, Frank hit .300 with 13 homers, 35 RBI and a team-high 75 runs scored.
FAU also lost Friday night starter Jake Miednik and Saturday starter Kyle Marman, both of whom were drafted by Cleveland,
When FAU opens camp on Friday, the Owls will have more new players on their roster than returners.
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