IRVING, Texas – Rice’s Matt Canterino, Dominic DiCaprio and Ford Proctor were all tabbed for preseason honors in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll, the C-USA office announced on Wednesday (Jan. 24).
After sensational individual seasons in 2017, the Owls’ veteran standouts have the full attention of the 12 C-USA head coaches. Three players are the most selections from one team, with Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss also placing a trio on the league’s 14-player preseason squad. As a team, the C-USA coaches collectively picked Rice to finish second in the 2018 regular season race behind defending regular season champ Southern Miss. The Owls defeated the Golden Eagles for the 2017 C-USA tournament crown to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
A year ago not only was Proctor one of just three Owls to start all 64 games, he played all 553.2 of the team’s innings at shortstop. The Beaumont, Texas, native led Rice and ranked among the C-USA leaders with 58 runs scored. He also led the Owls in walks (39) and was second on the team with 19 doubles.
DiCaprio likewise was a fixture behind the plate and in the middle of the batting order where he started 63 of the team's 64 games. The standout from Coral Springs, Fla., led the team in batting average (.366) and on-base percentage (.438), and was second on the squad in hits (87) and RBI (49). He earned second team all-conference honors after hitting .385 over Rice’s final 32 games that were primarily against C-USA opponents.
Canterino’s sensational debut season of Division I baseball included selection to the C-USA All-Tournament and All-Freshmen teams. As a rookie right-hander in 2017, the Southlake, Texas, native finished 12th in the nation with 10.4 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (minimum 96.0 inn.) and led the league with the fewest hits allowed per 9.0 innings (6.28). During one stretch of games Canterino posted double-digit strikeouts in three consecutive starts, becoming the first Owl to accomplish that feat since Jeff Niemann in 2003.
All the Owls are trained under the direction of Rice head coach Wayne Graham. Now in his 27th season at the helm of the program, Coach Graham has led Rice to 21 conference titles in the last 22 years. Rice has been to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 23-straight years, now the third-longest active streak in the nation.
The 2018 Rice baseball season begins Friday, February 16, vs. Samford in the UCF Tournament in Orlando, Fla. For season ticket information including seating options, pricing levels and parking, link here or call the Rice Ticket Office at 713-348-OWLS (6957). Don't miss any of the excitement; get your 2018 season tickets now!
2018 PRESEASON BASEBALL HONORS
(as selected by C-USA’s head coaches)
P - Matt Canterino, So., Rice
P - Nick MacDonald, So., FIU
P - Jake Miednik, Sr., Florida Atlantic
RP - Nick Sandlin, Jr., Southern Miss
C - Dominic DiCaprio, Jr., Rice
IF - Bryan Arias, Jr., UTSA
IF - Tyler Frank, Jr., Florida Atlantic
IF - Ford Proctor, Jr., Rice
IF - Vinny Pasquantino, So., Old Dominion
OF - Kyle Battle, So., Old Dominion
OF - Mason Irby, Sr., Southern Miss
OF - David Miranda, Sr., Florida Atlantic
OF - Matt Wallner, So., Southern Miss
DH/UT - Aaron Aucker, Sr., Middle Tennessee
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Matt Wallner, Southern Miss (Sophomore, OF/P)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Nick Sandlin, Southern Miss (Junior, RHP)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Southern Miss (11)
2. Rice (1)
3. Florida Atlantic
4. Old Dominion
7. Louisiana Tech
9. Middle Tennessee
(first place votes in parentheses)