May 20, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - On the eve of the 2014 Conference USA Baseball Championship to be held in Hattiesburg, Miss., no less than six Rice Owls have earned all-league accolades the C-USA office announced on Tuesday (May 21).
Rice's Michael Aquino (OF), Skyler Ewing (Inf.), Blake Fox (P) and Shane Hoelscher (Inf.) were named to the C-USA first team. John Clay Reeves (C) earned second team all-conference, and with the added honor of being tabbed as the C-USA Newcomer of the Year. Rookie Jon Duplantier (P) was named to the league's all-freshman team squad. All the award winners were selected on a vote of the conference's head coaches, sports information directors and a media representative who cover each program.
Aquino is a respected slugger back starting in left field (53 times) after serving as the DH last season. He was named a National Hitter of the Week by Collegiate Baseball on May 12, and has batted .331 with a .517 slugging percentage in league-only games. The senior from The Woodlands, Texas, ranks among the C-USA leaders in doubles (16) and he as collected two or more hits in a game 17 times with two or more RBI eight different times. On the defensive side, Aquino has thrown-out six runners on the bases from spot in left field.
Ewing has started 53 of the team's 54 games, including 46 at first where the team is 34-12. He ranks among the C-USA leaders and in the top 100 in the NCAA with 42 RBI. The standout from Arlington, Texas, has also been a National and C-USA Hitter of the Week, who is among the league's best in home runs (7), total bases (98), slugging (.469) and hits (66). He bats .348 with runners on base and .368 with men in scoring position. Ewing has been a defensive star at first base, but he is also versatile enough to contribute seven starts at catcher in order to give fellow honoree John Clay Reeves a breather.
Fox emerged as the staff ace, who ranks among the C-USA leaders in wins (11-0), ERA (1.39) and innings (90.2). The left-hander from Houston (Episcopal High School) has won 11-of-13 starts. In addition to non-conference wins over national powers Stanford and TCU, he has an 8-0 mark in C-USA games. Fox has pitched into the seventh inning of a game 12 times, with a season long of 8.1. frames. He has held opposing hitters to a composite .235 batting average and twice struck out eight in a single game.
Hoelscher has started 49 of the team's 54 games at third base, where he is among the NCAA's and C-USA leaders with 19 doubles. The Belton, Texas, native is also among the league leaders in hitting (.344) and on-base percentage (.441). He is second on the team with 19 multi-hit games, including a season-best four hits vs. Florida Atlantic (where three of the four hits were doubles). Hoelscher has proved to be one of the best defensive third basemen in the conference, maintaining .933 fielding percentage with 114 assists, while starting six double plays. This year he as recorded season-high five assists in a game three times.
It's been a busy week for Reeves to win awards. In addition to C-USA Newcomer of the Year accolades, the junior from Monroe, La., was named to the C-USA All-Academic team on Monday (May 19). As the Owls' starting catcher he batted a steady .337 with six home runs and 36 RBI for Rice's C-USA regular season champion team. Reeves was twice named the C-USA Hitter of the Week (March 17 and April 20) and he has tallied two or more hits in a game 16 times. Reeves is an outstanding backstop, who head coach Wayne Graham entrusts to call the pitches in games.
Duplantier has made a total of 16 appearances on the mound and moved into a starter's role later in the year. The true freshman from Katy, Texas, averages 8.8 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and has held opposing hitters to a composite .229 batting average. Duplantier owns a C-USA ERA of 1.59 ERA in league-only games. He fired a career-long 7.2 innings and struck out a career-high seven for a key C-USA victory over UAB.
The Rice baseball team next competes in the annual C-USA Tournament to be held in Hattiesburg, Miss., beginning on Wednesday (May 21). Rice, the No. 1 seed, meets No. 8 seed FIU at 12:30 pm at Pete Taylor Park on the Southern Miss campus. The tournament concludes with a one-game championship final on Sunday (May 25). The full list of C-USA baseball's all-conference honorees is as follows.
2014 CONFERENCE USA BASEBALL AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Aramis Garcia, Jr., C, FIU
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Chase Mallard, Sr., RHP, UAB
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Chris Mourelle, Fr., RHP, FIU
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
John Clay Reeves, Jr., C, Rice
KEITH LECLAIR COACH OF THE YEAR
Brian Shoop, UAB
ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR
Josh Hopper, UAB
FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF, Skyler Ewing, Jr., Rice
IF, Shane Hoelscher, Sr., Rice
IF, Zach Houchins, Sr., East Carolina
IF, Trent Miller, Sr., Middle Tennessee
OF, Jared Allen, Jr., Middle Tennessee
OF, Michael Aquino, Sr., Rice
OF, Nick Walker, Fr., Old Dominion
C, Aramis Garcia, Jr., FIU
DH/UT, Drew Reynolds, Sr., East Carolina
SP, Zac Curtis, Sr., Middle Tennessee
SP, Mike Franco, Sr., FIU
SP, Blake Fox, So., Rice
SP, Chase Mallard, Sr., UAB
RP, Ryan Williams, Sr., East Carolina
SECOND TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF, Josiah Burney, Sr., Old Dominion
IF, Stephen Kerr, Fr., Florida Atlantic
IF, RJ Perucki, Sr., UTSA
IF, Mike Warren, Sr., UTSA
OF, Chase Davis, Jr., UAB
OF, Brendon Sanger, So., Florida Atlantic
OF, John Welborn, Sr., UTSA
C, John Clay Reeves, Jr., Rice
DH/UT, Matt Durst, Jr., Southern Miss
SP, Conor Fisk, Sr., Southern Miss
SP, Alex Luna, Jr., UAB
SP, Brock Hartson, So., UTSA
SP, Chris Mourelle, Fr., FIU
RP, Bradley Roney, Jr., Southern Miss
1B, Bryce Harman, East Carolina
2B, Stephen Kerr, Florida Atlantic
2B, T.J. Nichting, Charlotte
2B, CJ Pickering, UTSA
2B, Charlie Yorgen, East Carolina
3B, Hunter Hope, Tulane
OF, Corey Bird, Marshall
OF, Dylan Burdeaux, Southern Miss
OF, Nick Walker, Old Dominion
RHP, Chris Mourelle, FIU
RHP, Jon Duplantier, Rice
LHP, Thomas Lowery, UAB