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Conference USA 2022 Season Preview, Four Teams Stand Above the Pack

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

As the sun rises on another season of college baseball with squads opening camps this month, Conference USA (CUSA) is set to lead the way again as it has in the past.

The Past

CUSA sent four teams to the NCAA Regionals in 2021 including the regular season champion Charlotte, along with Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech, and Southern Miss. For CUSA, the four teams ranked fourth among conferences sending teams to the NCAA tournament behind the SEC, ACC, and PAC-12. It was the first time since 2016 that CUSA sent as many as four teams to the tournament.

All four of the teams were seeded second or higher, and these four teams produced the only 40-plus win seasons in the conference.

In the July amateur baseball draft, CUSA had fourteen players chosen from eight of the twelve conference teams. Ten of the players chosen were pitchers. Southern Miss and Old Dominion each had three players drafted while Charlotte and Florida Atlantic each had two players taken.

In sum, CUSA had one of its most successful seasons in recent memory.

The Future

The reality of 2022 in CUSA is this: offenses are returning strong.

Charlotte’s Austin Knight, Old Dominion’s Carter Trice, and Florida Atlantic’s Nolan Schanuel are the nationally recognized stars of the conference heading into 2022. The trio were among the conference leaders in offensive categories such as batting average, slugging percentage, and base hits in 2021.

Old Dominion is coming off a conference best 44 wins last season. The 2022 schedule is predictably strong, with games against NCAA postseason teams Virginia, East Carolina, VCU, and Campbell. Freshman Cater Trice played in 58 of the Monarchs 60 games last season and his postseason and now preseason accolades are all well deserved. Trice’s .355 batting average placed him third in the conference and his 83 hits placed him second. Old Dominion brings back an experienced team in 2022 with few newcomers.

Louisiana Tech, after 42 wins a season ago, the Bulldogs will face LSU, Wichita State, Dallas Baptist, Tulane, and UL-Lafayette in non-conference play. Pitcher and Friday night starter, Jonathan Fincher (3.05), and second baseman Taylor Young return for coach Lane Burroughs, leading a squad that knows how to win.

Southern Miss returns depth and talent in 2022. Led by right-handed pitcher Ben Ethridge (3.25) and left-hander Drew Boyd on the mound, the offense brings back Gabe Montenegro, Danny Lynch, Christopher Sargent, Dustin Dickerson, Charlie Fischer, and Will McGillis.

Charlotte returns Austin Knight who led the nation with 29 doubles last season while batting .342. Head Coach Robert Woodard’s team won 40 games a year ago. The 2022 team is sophomore heavy, with thirteen of them.


Rice brought in former big leaguer and Owls baseball alum Jose Cruz Jr. to lead the program after three seasons at the direction of Matt Bragga. No players from Rice were drafted in 2021, and a young team with experience from seniors like Cruz’s son Antonio could find inspiration in its new coach in 2022.

Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) will play eleven games against teams that finished in the Top 25 last season. They will play host to Stanford, a team that went to Omaha in 2021, and they will play games with Baylor and Oklahoma. Another team that saw no players drafted in 2021, UTSA will gain some tough experience on the field and could challenge conventional wisdom in CUSA play.

Florida Atlantic won thirty-two games in 2021 and exited the postseason scene when they lost to Old Dominion in the CUSA Tournament. They will play two games against Michigan and one against Miami. While not the number of games against top non-conference competition that UTSA has scheduled, those tough matchups only make FAU and the CUSA better as a whole.

Middle Tennessee returns two senior pitchers in Trent Seibert (3.77) and Zach Keenan (3.86). Both pitchers were top 10 ERA leaders in CUSA in 2021, and both were in the top 5 for fewest hits allowed with 58 and 61 respectively. The Blue Raiders finished just three games below .500 a year ago, seeing that number flip in the opposite direction is not a stretch with solid pitching to lead the way and an experienced offense to provide support.

Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) finished last in the West Division of the CUSA last season. The Blazers took advantage of the NCAA rule which allows teams to play two scrimmages against others schools, so they took on both Clemson and Georgia Tech in the fall. With fourteen true freshmen on the 2022 squad and three red shirt seniors, UAB is not likely to compete for top billing but is poised to be an unknown and a potential thorn in the side of every team they face.


2022 is likely to be dominated again by the four teams that saw postseason play last season. College Baseball Nation has the four squads listed in its recent Preseason Top 50: Louisiana Tech (14), Southern Miss (24), Old Dominion (33), Charlotte (37). The quad all feature what is expected of top contenders: offense, pitching, and depth at most positions.


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