HATTIESBURG, Miss. (Southern Miss Athletics) – Conference USA announced Wednesday its 2020 preseason baseball awards with the league’s 12 head coaches choosing Southern Miss as the favorite to win the league’s championship. Three Golden Eagles also earned spots on the C-USA preseason team.

The Southern Miss preseason honorees include senior right-handed starting pitcher Walker Powell, senior IF Matt Guidry and junior OF Gabe Montenegro.

Powell led C-USA with a 2.72 ERA last season, posting a 6-2 record with 73 strikeouts and 13 walks in 99.1 innings pitched. His 16 starts ranked tied for first in the league and he lasted at least seven innings in eight of those outings. Powell also led the squad in complete games with three, including a complete-game shutout of Old Dominion.

Guidry, one of the Golden Eagle team captains, had a team-high .557 on-base percentage, batting .297 with 24 extra-base hits, 47 RBI and 55 runs scored, while entering the 2020 season with a 55-game on-base reached streak. He homered twice and drove in nine runs in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional last season, earning all-tournament team honors.

Montenegro, who led the Golden Eagles last season in hitting, led C-USA in sacrifice hits (11) and runs scored (78), batted .342 (fifth in the league) with 10 doubles and four triples. He delivered the game-winning hit in a comeback victory over Arizona State in the NCAA Regional a year ago and went on to be named the Co-Most Outstanding Player in that tournament.

Southern Miss, the 2019 C-USA Tournament champions, earned six of the 12 first place votes, and were followed by 2019 regular season champion Florida Atlantic, which garnered four first-place votes, in the poll for second. Louisiana Tech came in third, while Old Dominion earned fourth. Rice and FIU, which each garnered one first-place vote, were picked fifth and sixth, respectively. The preseason poll then was rounded out by WKU, UAB, UTSA, Marshall, Charlotte and Middle Tennessee. Rice junior infielder Trei Cruz has been chosen as the league’s preseason Player of the Year, while FIU junior left-hander Logan Allen was named the preseason Pitcher of the Year.