IRVING, Texas – For the third-straight year and fourth time since joining the league in 2015, East Carolina has been picked first in the 2021 American Athletics Conference preseason poll, as chosen by the league’s eight head coaches. The Pirates, who won the 2019 regular season crown after setting a new conference record with 20 wins, picked up seven of eight first place votes.

Four Pirates earned inclusion on the preseason all-conference team in outfielder Thomas Francisco, pitcher Jake Kuchmaner, second baseman Connor Norby and outfielder Bryson Worrell. Kuchmaner and Worrell were two of five players on the squad that were unanimous selections.

On Dec. 21, ECU garnered its first preseason national ranking of the 2021 season after being selected No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball. The Pirates, who have made 30 NCAA Regional appearances, posted a 13-4 record a year ago before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ECU returns 27 players, including American Athletic All-Conference performers Tyler Smith (2018) and Kuchmaner (2019), as well as Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America pick C.J. Mayhue (2020). In all, the roster consists of 22 freshmen, six sophomores, nine juniors and three seniors.

2021 American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll and Awards
(as selected by The American head coaches)

PRESEASON POLL

  1. East Carolina (7) – 49 points
  2. UCF – 39
  3. Tulane (1) – 36
  4. Houston – 34
  5. Wichita State – 25
  6. Cincinnati – 15
  7. Memphis – 14
  8. USF – 12

(First-place votes in parenthesis)

2020 PRESEASON ALL-CONFERNCE TEAM 
Position – Name (School)
P – Colton Gordon, R-So., UCF
P – Evan Shawver, Jr., Cincinnati
P – Jake Kuchmaner, Jr., East Carolina*
P – Braden Olthoff, R-Jr., Tulane*
P – Liam Eddy, Jr., Wichita State
RP – Jack Sinclair, Jr., UCF
C – Hunter Goodman, So., Memphis*
1B – Ryan Hernandez, Jr., Houston
2B – Connor Norby, So., East Carolina
SS – Ben Brooks, Jr., Memphis
3B – Eric Santiago, Gr., Cincinnati
3B – Trevor Minder, R-Jr., Tulane
OF – Thomas Francisco, So., East Carolina
OF – Bryson Worrell, Jr., East Carolina*
OF – Couper Cornblum, So., Wichita State
DH – Wyatt Stapp, Sr., Cincinnati*
(*unanimous selection)

PRESEASON PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR
Hunter Goodman, So., C, Memphis

PRESEASON PITCHER-OF-THE-YEAR
Braden Olthoff, R-Jr., Tulane