IRVING, Texas – For the fourth consecutive year and the fifth time since joining the league in 2015, East Carolina has been picked first in the 2022 American Athletics Conference preseason poll, as chosen by the league’s eight head coaches.
The Pirates, who won the 2019 and 2021 regular season crowns after posting a league-best 20 wins each year, picked up six of eight first-place votes.
Sophomores C.J. Mayhue and Carson Whisenhunt earned inclusion on the preseason all-conference team with Whisenhunt being tabbed as the AAC Preseason Pitcher-of-the-Year. Mayhue, the 2021 American co-leader in saves with eight, appeared in 34 games posting a 3-1 record. The left-hander allowed 24 runs (17 earned) on 44 hits and struck out 76 batters in 50.0 innings of work. A Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America selection in 2020, he picked up wins against Cincinnati, Duke and Tulane, while notching saves against Appalachian State, Charlotte, Cincinnati (three times), Duke, Illinois State and Memphis. Mayhue fanned multiple batters in an outing 18 times with a career-best six on three occasions (Duke, North Carolina and UCF). In all, he had at least one punch out in 29 of 34 contests and held opposing hitters to a .228 composite batting average.
Whisenhunt posted a 6-2 record in 13 starts during his first year as a member of the weekend rotation. In his first collegiate start he allowed just two runs (both earned) on three hits in four innings where he struck out 10 batters against Rhode Island. The lefty picked up his first collegiate win at Georgia Southern tossing 6.2 scoreless frames with a career-best 11 punch outs and became the first freshman hurler since Brooks Jernigan (1998) to record double-digit strikeouts in consecutive games.
The Mocksville, N.C. native, who pitched for the Collegiate National Team over the summer, allowed 28 runs (26 earned) on 50 hits posting a 3.77 ERA. He fanned 79 batters while walking 22 in 62.0 innings. Including the Georgia Southern contest, Whisenhunt also earned victories over Appalachian State, Charlotte, Illinois State, Tulane and UCF. On the season, he worked five-plus innings six times with a career-best seven shutout frames versus the 49ers and fanned six or more in an outing on seven occasions. Whisenhunt was named Collegiate Baseball National Player-of-the-Week (Feb. 22), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Pitcher-of-the-Month (March 3) and American Athletic Conference Pitcher-of-the-Week (March 15).
On Dec. 20, ECU garnered its first preseason national ranking of the 2022 season after being selected No. 8 by Collegiate Baseball. The Pirates, who have made 31 NCAA Regional appearances, who posted a 44-17 record, hosted the Greenville Regional (sixth in program history) for the third consecutive year in 2021 after earning a No. 13 National Seed and advanced to the Vanderbilt Super Regional. ECU returns 25 players including Freshman All-America selections C.J. Mayhue (2020), Zach Agnos (2021) and Josh Moylan (2021) along with AAC All-Conference performers Jake Kuchmaner (2019) and Bryson Worrell (2021). In all, the roster consists of 13 freshmen, 19 sophomores, five juniors and five seniors.
2022 American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll and Awards
(as selected by The American head coaches)
East Carolina (6) – 48 points
Tulane (1) – 36
Cincinnati – 30
Wichita State – 29
UCF – 28
South Florida (1) – 26
Houston – 20
Memphis – 7
(First-place votes in parenthesis)
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Paul Komistek, R-Jr., OF, Cincinnati
PRESEASON PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Carson Whisenhunt, So., East Carolina
2020 PRESEASON ALL-CONFERNCE TEAM
Position – Name (School)
P – Carson Whisenhunt, So., East Carolina*
P – Jack Jasiak, R-So., South Florida*
P – Tyler Hoffman, R-Jr., Tulane
P – Jace Kaminska, So., Wichita State*
RP – C.J. Mayhue, So., East Carolina
C – Bennett Lee, So., Tulane
1B – Garrett Kocis, Sr., Wichita State
2B – Chase Englehard, So., Tulane
SS – Alex Freeland, So., UCF
3B – Carmine Lane, R-So., South Florida
OF – Gephry Pena, R-Jr., UCF
OF – Cole Harting, So., Cincinnati
OF – Paul Komistek, R-Jr., Cincinnati*
OF – Griffin Merritt, R-Jr., Cincinnati
OF – Drew Brutcher, So., South Florida
DH – Tom Josten, R-Jr., UCF
DH – Luis Aviles, R-Sr., Tulane