2022 Conference USA Tourney Preview

The Niners are set to compete for a Tournament Title this week starting on Wednesday in the Conference USA Tournament.  Here is a breakdown of the tourney from a 49ers perspective.

HISTORY

In program history, the 49ers have raised the trophy at the end of the Metro Tournament (1993) and the Atlantic 10 Tournament (2007, 2008, 2011), but have never raised the Conference USA Tournament Trophy.  In the original Conference USA (1996-2005) the 49ers advanced to the Championship game in 1997 & 1998 but fell to Houston and Tulane respectively. Since rejoining Conference USA in 2014, the 49ers advanced to the semi-finals in both 2017 & 2018, losing both times to host school Southern Miss in Biloxi.  Overall, the Niners have a 14-16 record all time in the C-USA Tournament. In all conference tournaments over the years, the 49ers have an overall record of 43-49.

THE HOST

The 2022 Conference USA Tournament will once again be hosted by Southern Miss, but this year it will be held on campus at Pete Taylor Park. This will mark the 7th and final time that the C-USA Tournament has been played at Pete Taylor Park which holds 4,300 fans.  The stadium opened in 1985 and has undergone several renovations over time including adding an artificial playing surface before the 2020 season. The dimensions of the park are 340’ down both lines and 400’ to center field.

Pete Taylor Park

THE FORMAT

The Conference USA Tournament is a double elimination tournament with two 4-team brackets.  Only the top 8 teams in the conference qualify for the tournament meaning that Marshall, FIU, WKU, and Rice will not be participating.  The winners of each bracket will face off in the Championship Game on Sunday at 1 pm CT. All games will be televised on ESPN+ and the Championship Game will be on CBS Sports Network.

Link to Conference USA Championship Central

THE TEAMS

The 49ers earned the 7 seed and will face 2nd seeded LaTech in their first game on Wednesday.  In the other game of their bracket 3 seeded ODU will face MTSU. That will be first game of the tournament starting at 10 am ET.

The other bracket has 1 seed USM vs 8 seed UAB, & 4th seeded FAU vs 5th seeded UTSA.

Bracket 1:

#1 Southern Miss 41-14 (23-7) vs #8 UAB 30-23 (13-17)

#4 Florida Atlantic  34-21 (19-11)  vs #5 UTSA 35-19 (19-11)

Bracket 2:

#2 Louisiana Tech 38-18 (20-10) vs #7 Charlotte 35-20 (17-13)

#3 Old Dominion 38-15 (19-11) vs #6 Middle Tennessee State 29-24 (17-13)

Here’s a look at how the teams in the field performed against the tourney field this year. Looks like things were very even within the two brackets this season.

SERIES RECAPS FOR THE 49ER’S BRACKET

#2 LaTech –  Charlotte will face LaTech in following the ODU-MTSU game to open the tourney.  The Niners and the Bulldogs are very familiar with each other as they just completed a 3 game series at the Hayes this past week. 

Here’s a recap of the series: The 49ers took game 1 of the series 11-3 before falling in the final 2 games 8-3 & 14-5.  Hale Sims opened, Matt Brooks closed, and Spencer Giesting threw 7 solid innings in between to win game 1 of the series for the Niners. Josh Madole had a double and 3 RBI to go with Cam Fisher’s double, HR and 3 RBI providing the offense in the victory.

A combination of LaTech’s Ryan Jennings and Kyle Crigger held the Niners bats to only 1 ER in Game 2 of the series as the Bulldogs evened the series up. Collin Kramer allowed only 2 Runs through 5 but got into some trouble in the 6th allowing 3. That turned out to be the difference in the game.

In the final game of the series LaTech jumped out to a big lead in the 1st 3 innings that was just too much to overcome. David McCabe had 2 HR and 4 RBI in the effort. The game was called early due to weather after 7 innings.

During the series LaTech went with LHP Cade Gibson, RHP Ryan Jennings, & RHP Jarret Whorff as their starters. Charlotte went with Hale Sims, Collin Kramer , and Will Lancaster.

Charlotte will face either ODU or MTSU in the second game of the tournament either in the winner’s bracket game at 12:30 CT or in the loser’s bracket at 9:00 AM CT on Thursday.

#3 ODU– Charlotte went on the road and won 2 of 3 from the Monarchs early in the conference season. Here’s a series recap:  David McCabe started the series off with a solo shot in the 1st, leading to a 5 run inning for the Niners. That would be all that they would need as Giesting & AJ Wilson were strong on the mound allowing only 4 ER in the wind tunnel of Norfolk. Knight had 4 hits; Butcher, Dragum, Fisher, & Hopson each drove in 2 as the Niners win 11-4.

In game 2 Will Lancaster pitched 7.1 strong innings in the wind tunnel only allowing 5 ER.  Kramer and Colby Bruce finished off the rest of the game as the 49er offense put up 13 runs in a 13-8 series clinching victory.  Cam Fisher had a Double, HR and 3 RBI, Jake Cunningham drove in 4 with a double and a HR. Butcher drove in 3 and Nate Furman, Austin Knight, & Jake Cunningham all scored 3 runs each in the victory.

It took extra innings in game 3 for the Monarchs to avoid the sweep. The Monarchs jumped out to a 9-2 lead before the 49ers bounced back with a 10 run 5th inning. Josh Madole homered twice in the inning and Cunningham also left the yard again to lead the comeback. The Niners weren’t able to score after the big inning and ODU was able to scratch across an unearned run to tie it in the 8th and then won the game on a HR in the 10th. Quinton Martinez closed the game out with a strong 5 innings only allowing the HR as earned and struck out 5 in the effort.

ODU starters in the series were LHP Tommy Gertner, RHP Nick Pantos, & RHP Sam Armstrong.  The Niners went with Giesting, Lancaster, & Cam Hansen.

#6 MTSU – The Niners travelled to Middle Tennessee over Easter weekend and took on the Blue Raiders. MTSU ended up taking the series 2 games to 1.  Here is the series summary:  In a low scoring game 1 of the series, Jake Cunningham drove in Austin Knight with a triple in the 9th to tie the game and send it to extras. Unfortunately the Raiders were able to walk it off with an RBI single in the 11th. by a score of 4-3. Will Lancaster had a solid outing going 7.1 IP, allowing only 3 ER & Colby Bruce ended the game with 2.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 K.

The Niners evened the series with a 10-5 victory after a strong outing from Hale Sims. Sims struck out 8 allowed only 1 ER on 7 Hits over 5.1 IP. Cam Fisher and Kaden Hopson each drove in 2 and Josh Madole drove in 3 in the victory.

In the rubber game, the Niners jumped out to an early lead with homers from Jack Dragum, Josh Madole, and Will Butcher, but were unable to close it out as they were victims of a 9 run 6th inning from the Blue Raiders. Dragum ended up with 2 HR on the day in the effort.  The Niners lost the series despite outscoring the Blue Raiders 20-19 over the weekend.

MTSU went with RHP Zach Keenan, RHP Eriq Swan, & LHP Peyton Wiggington on the mound.  Charlotte went with Lancaster, Sims, & Kramer.

The Niners would only face 1 of the other 4 teams in the championship game should they make it.

Charlotte was swept at home by Southern Miss by scores of 2-1, 8-2, 6-5 (13 Innings). USM went with Tanner Hall, Hunter Riggins, & Hurston Waldrep against CLT’s Bruce, Lancaster, & Kramer on the mound.

The Niners swept UAB at home by scores of 6-3, 8-1, & 3-2. UAB went with Jackson Reynolds, Tyler O’Clair, & Brooks Walton vs CLT’s Sims, Lancaster, & Kramer.

Charlotte took 2 of 3 At FAU with an opening win of 10-3, a marathon 15 inning loss 10-9, and a run rule win 14-4. FAU threw Hunter Cooley, Max Martzolf, & Tyler Burnham vs CLT’s Sims, Lancaster, & Lancaster. Yes he started 2 games in a row over a crazy weekend.

UTSA swept the 49ers this season down in San Antonio 13-3, 8-7, & 8-5 (7 Inn). USTA threw Luke Malone, Ryan Beaird, & Braden Davis vs CLT’s Giesting, Lancaster, & Brooks.

Niner Nuggets- Week 14

Photo @CharlotteBSB

We are back with the final regular season edition of Niner Nuggets. This is a slightly abbreviated version as we are about to hit the road to Columbia to watch the Niners. All the charts have been updated.

Charlotte jumped 10 spots in the RPI to 75 after a 2-1 week last week, and are tied for 5th in C-USA with 3 games left to play.

Conference USA

We are in the final week of the regular season and all 8 spots have been clinched for the C-USA Tournament. UAB has locked down the 8 seed, but everything else is up for grabs. Charlotte can finish as high as the 2 seed and as low as the 7th seed. Below is a chart showing the current standings, the remaining schedules, and tie breakers.

A look at Week 13 overall results and what’s ahead in Week 14 for Conference USA, sorted by RPI. Overall Conference USA stayed at 5th in RPI. All 8 tournament teams are in the Top 100 RPI. Bold denotes teams that come to the Hayes. Charlotte does not play FIU this season.

Out of Conference Opponents

A look at the teams on the 49ers’ schedule, sorted in order that they have played the Niners. The Niners will play their final OOC game today at South Carolina.

Charlotte is 17-7 out of conference and has beaten 3 current conference leaders (UConn, Campbell, & College of Charleston).

Niner Nuggets- Week 13

Photo @CharlotteBSB

We are back with the Week 13 edition of Niner Nuggets. They are out a little later than normal with no mid-week game this week. Charlotte had the week off for exams and will travel to Boca Raton to face FAU this weekend. Currently Charlotte is riding a 9 game C-USA win streak including weekend sweeps of UAB, Marshall, and Rice.

Charlotte fell 5 spots in the RPI to 85 after a 3-1 week last week, and are tied for 5th in C-USA with 2 weeks left to play.

Rankings (Teams of interest in the national rankings)

  • Baseball America: 7 Louisville, 17 Southern Miss, 18 UConn
  • D1 Baseball: 7 Louisville, 13 UConn, 14 Southern Miss
  • USA Today Coaches Poll: 11 Southern Miss, 10 UConn, 8 Louisville, RV Old Dominion, RV Coastal Carolina

Conference USA

There are 2 weeks remaining in the season and only USM & UTSA have clinched spots in the tournament. The Top 8 teams qualify for the C-USA tournament and no one has been eliminated yet. There are still 7 teams in the running to win the regular season title. Below is a chart showing the current standings, the remaining schedules, and tie breakers.

A look at Week 12 overall results and what’s ahead in Week 13 for Conference USA, sorted by RPI. Overall Conference USA stayed at 6th in RPI. Bold denotes teams that come to the Hayes. Charlotte does not play FIU this season.

Out of Conference Opponents

A look at the teams on the 49ers’ schedule, sorted in order that they have played the Niners. The only remaining non- conference game left on the schedule is a road trip to South Carolina next Tuesday.

Charlotte is 17-7 out of conference and has beaten 3 current conference leaders (UConn, Campbell, & College of Charleston).

Niner Nuggets- Week 12

Photo @CharlotteBSB

We are back with the Week 12 edition of Niner Nuggets. The Niners will travel to Chapel Hill on Tuesday, and return home to host Rice this weekend at the Hayes. Currenty Charlotte is riding a 9 game win streak including two consecutive weekend sweeps.

Charlotte moved up 9 spots in the RPI to 79 with a 5-0 week last week, and are tied for 6th in C-USA with 3 weeks left to play.

Rankings (Teams of interest in the national rankings)

  • Baseball America: 7 Louisville, 13 Southern Miss
  • D1 Baseball: 7 Southern Miss, 10 Louisville, 15 UConn
  • USA Today Coaches Poll: 7 Southern Miss, 13 UConn, 10 Louisville, RV North Carolina, RV West Virginia, RV Davidson

Conference USA

There are 3 weeks remaining in the season and all eyes are starting to focus on the Conference USA Tournament seeding. The Top 8 teams qualify for the C-USA tournament. With 9 conference games remaining, no one has clinched a spot, and no one has been eliminated yet. Below is a chart showing the current standings, the remaining schedules, and tie breakers.

A look at Week 11 overall results and what’s ahead in Week 12 for Conference USA, sorted by RPI. Overall Conference USA moved up to 6th in RPI. Bold denotes teams that come to the Hayes. Charlotte does not play FIU this season.

Out of Conference Opponents

A look at the teams on the 49ers’ schedule, sorted in order that they play the Niners. There are only 2 more out of conference games remaining and they are both on the road.

Week 11- Bonus Nugget

We are heading down the final stretch in the Conference USA Baseball season with 4 weeks remaining. There is still plenty up for grabs rolling in to Week 11 as we look toward the C-USA Tournament.

C-USA has 12 schools that play baseball and only the Top 8 teams qualify for the tournament. With 12 games remaining, no one has clinched a spot, and no one has been eliminated yet. Below is a chart showing the current standings, the remaining schedules, and tie breakers.

Niner Nuggets- Week 11

Photo @CharlotteBSB

We are back with the Week 11 edition of Niner Nuggets. The Niners will host UNC Asheville on Tuesday, NC A&T on Wednesday and then travel to Marshall this weekend. It looks like ther will be radio only for the mid-week games and the games at Marshall will be shown on Marshall’s YouTube channel.

Charlotte moved up 29 spots in the RPI with a 4-0 week last week, and are tied for 7th in C-USA with 4 weeks left to play.

Rankings (Teams of interest in the national rankings)

  • Baseball America: 6 Southern Miss, 12 Louisville
  • D1 Baseball: 4 Southern Miss, 15 UConn, 16 Louisville
  • USA Today Coaches Poll: 5 Southern Miss, 16 UConn, 17 Louisville, RV North Carolina, RV West Virginia

Conference USA

A look at Week 10 results and what’s ahead in Week 11 for Conference USA, sorted by RPI. Overall Conference USA moved up to 7th in RPI. Bold denotes teams that come to the Hayes. Charlotte does not play FIU this season.

Out of Conference Opponents

A look at the teams on the 49ers schedule, sorted in order that they play the Niners. Currently, the Niners have faced 3 conference leaders in UConn (Big East), Campbell (Big South), and College of Charleston (CAA) out of conference.

Niner Nuggets- Week 10

Photo @CharlotteBSB

We are back with the Week 10 edition of Niner Nuggets. The Niners will host Coastal Carolina on Tuesday and UAB this weekend.

The Niners had their 2nd C-USA Pitcher of the Week this week as Matt Brooks took home the weekly award. Matt pitched a 1 hit shutout vs Winthrop on Tuesday night & was 1 out away from a no-hitter.

Rankings (Teams of interest in the national rankings)

  • Baseball America: 7 Southern Miss, 13 Louisville
  • D1 Baseball: 6 Southern Miss, 15 UConn, 16 Louisville
  • USA Today Coaches Poll: 6 Southern Miss, 16 Uconn, 18 Louisville, RV North Carolina, RV West Virginia, RV Davidson

Conference USA

A look at Week 9 results and what’s ahead in Week 10 for Conference USA, sorted by RPI. Overall Conference USA moved up to 8th in RPI. Bold denotes teams that come to the Hayes. Charlotte does not play FIU this season.

Out of Conference Opponents

A look at the teams on the 49ers schedule, sorted in order that they play the Niners.

Niner Nuggets- Week 9

Photo @CharlotteBSB

We are back with the Week 9 edition of Niner Nuggets. The Niners will host Winthrop on Tuesday and travel to MTSU for the weekend.

Rankings (Teams of interest in the national rankings)

  • Baseball America: 9 Louisville, 14 Southern Miss
  • D1 Baseball: 9 Louisville, 11 Southern Miss, 18 UConn
  • USA Today Coaches Poll: 11 Louisville, 14 Southern Miss, 21 Uconn, RV North Carolina, RV Davidson, RV LaTech

Conference USA

A look at Week 8 results and what’s ahead in Week 9 for Conference USA, sorted by RPI. Overall Conference USA moved up to 9th in RPI. Bold denotes teams that come to the Hayes. Charlotte does not play FIU this season.

Out of Conference Opponents

A look at the teams on the 49ers schedule, sorted in order that they play the Niners.

Niner Nuggets- Week 8

Photo @CharlotteBSB

We are back with another edition of Niner Nuggets. We are going to start utilizing this platform a little more as the season goes on.

Rankings (Teams of interest in the national rankings)

  • Baseball America: 11 Louisville, 20 North Carolina, 22 Southern Miss
  • D1 Baseball: 12 Louisville, 18 Southern Miss, 22 North Carolina, 25 UConn
  • USA Today Coaches Poll: 14 Louisville, 20 North Carolina, 24 Southern Miss, RV Uconn, RV Davidson, RV Purdue

Conference USA

A look at Week 7 results and what’s ahead in Week 8 for Conference USA, sorted by RPI. Overall Conference USA is 10th in RPI. Bold denotes teams that come to the Hayes.

Out of Conference Opponents

A look at the teams on the 49ers schedule, sorted in order that they play the Niners.

Tale of the Tape: 2020-2022 Out of Conference Performance

Photo Credit: Sydney Pike

With conference play set to start, it’s time for our annual look at a sampling of year-over-year (over year) metrics. Here are the numbers and a few observations:

202020212022
Record9-811-811-5
RPI12141111
Strength of Schedule7114148
Offense
Runs/Game5.357.118.44
Batting Avg..259.283.299
On Base %.374.354.436
Slugging %.339.354.487
Doubles203633
Home Runs83023
Walks9460117
Strikeouts130145132
Stolen Bases-Attempts15-2319-2124-29
Pitching
Earned Run 6.343.444.09
WHIP1.581.341.36
Opponent Batting Avg..262.206.236
Walks 849868
Strikeouts157207156
Doubles352819
Home Runs171211
Fielding
Fielding %.957.982.972
Errors271216
Double Plays202810
Stolen Bases Allowed521923
Runners Caught Stealing577

Observations

  • Coming into the season we would not have guessed that the strength of schedule (SOS) would be 148 based on the names on the schedule. But there’s no way to know how it’s going to shake out once the game start. Statistically speaking, the Western Illinois series is holding the SOS back. On the flip side, the Niners already have some resume-quality wins. The win over UCONN comes to mind. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities ahead to build the resume on the schedule both in league play and during the mid- week. There’s still reason to believe this will be a top 50 schedule when the dust settles.
  • The program’s positive offensive trend continues. Runs/game, batting average, on-base %, and slugging % are all at 3 year highs. Here’s the scary part (for the opponents): the starting lineup has been intact for exactly two games to this point due to injury. Josh Madole missed the first two weeks of the season. Once he returned, Austin Knight went out. Now that both of them have returned, David McCabe has missed time. McCabe is day-to-day at the moment. If the Niners can get the lineup healthy, look out.
  • The pitching staff continues to make progress. Most notably, walks are down. Limiting free passes was an area of emphasis for the staff in the offseason and it appears to be paying dividends. That group has had it’s share of bad luck with the injury bug as well. Lefty Christian Lothes is out for the season after having Tommy John in the Fall. C-Lo is undergoing rehab and looks to be back strong next season. An important part of the bullpen, Evan Michelson, has also missed time but should be getting close to making a return. In the meantime the staff has turned to a number different arms that have stepped up. AJ Wilson and Michael Oh are great examples.
  • As with any season, this is a marathon, not a sprint. The non-conference weekends are over and the 10 week conference grind is just beginning. The roster has shown what it is capable of. The Niners have been in every game they’ve dropped. In particular, the season opener against Louisville and the Friday night game vs WVU sting because they were so close. The series finale against App stings because the Niners actually did win it, but we digress. The point is, that the team appears to be finally getting healthy as we head into the meat of the schedule and that’s a good thing.
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