Mendoza named All-Conference
"Super Mario" is selected by RRAC coaches
Vess, Jett cap standout baseball seasons
WACO, Texas -- The Red River Athletic Conference has released its 2012 list of baseball awards, and it includes a representative from Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
Darin David, the RRAC’s Sports Information Director, reported the league’s All-Conference First and Second Team selections, the All-Glove Team as well as the Player and Pitcher of the Year honors.
A young and clearly improved* (see note below) SAGU team battled to a 15-27 mark that surely limited their chances of individual awards in the Red River.
Mario Mendoza (Ft. Worth, Tx / Grambling State University, Polytechnic HS) made the RRAC All-Conference Second Team as a Designated Hitter.
The 5-foot-11 senior enjoyed an outstanding season as a pitcher, leftfielder and DH after transferring from Grambling State, which is located 65 miles east of Shreveport, Louisiana. Mendoza is the first player to be recognized by the RRAC in at least four years.
“Mario is a very intense player,” said Head Coach Jonathan Shockley. “He brought it every day, giving 100% the entire season, all the way until the last out of the last game.”
“He is the kind of player that a coach wished his roster was filled with,” he added.
“Mario was clutch as a hitter,” he continued. “He was consistent, had power, he hit for average, and he was willing to do whatever was needed, including bunting. He was aggressive at the plate, and loved to jump on the first pitch. No wonder he carried himself with a certain swagger.”
True. And his confidence was well-founded.
Mendoza won the team’s batting title on the last day, going 5-for-8 to finish at .365. He ranked 10th the RRAC. His .476 slugging percentage and his 28 runs scored were also tops for the Lions.
“Super Mario” threw the school’s first-ever no hitter and followed it with a one-hitter before suffering a strained elbow in a start against UT-Brownsville. It ended his pitching season, which saw the lefthander post a 2-0 record and a 2.20 earned run average.
Mendoza hurled 16.1 innings and permitted just one hit, holding opponents to a combined .022 batting average against him. Early control problems (12 walks) were offset by 18 strikeouts.
Two other Southwestern players figured to be in the mix when RRAC head coaches convened in Shreveport on Friday to vote on the conference selections.
Senior centerfielder Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS) and freshman shortstop Donovan Vess (Ft. Worth, Tx / Eastfield College, Lake Worth HS) produced noteworthy seasons that were likely to garner recognition had the team won more often.
For example, LSU-Shreveport (45-4), the #1 ranked team in the NAIA, had 11 players receive awards.
Jett wrapped up a career for the Lions that saw him become the team’s all-time leader in at bats, runs, hits, walks and stolen bases. A late flurry pushed his batting average to .348. He was successful in 21-of-22 stolen base attempts.
Vess led the club all season in hitting until Mendoza edged him in a season-ending doubleheader. The impressive Vess swung a .362 bat and drove in a team-high 29 runs.
He was #11 in the conference in batting and owned the second best BA of all the freshmen in the league.
SAGU had two other players hit over .300 this season in freshman infielder Jacob Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS) and sophomore catcher Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS). Spivey hit .318, Denton .305.
For the complete list of the RRAC post-season honor roll, visit www.redriver.conference.org and click on baseball for the story.
The top six teams in the league are currently competing in the RRAC tournament in Shreveport. Both the schedule and results are listed at the Red River website. LiveStats and radio are available.
*Note: SAGU rose all the way to #4 in the RRAC in batting with a .284 batting average and were 2nd in stolen bases. The Lions struggled in hitting with men in scoring position, evidenced by their 3.57 runs per game (9th in RRAC).
Pitching ERA was 6th in the conference at 5.27, over two runs less than a year ago. Opponents hit only .274 against SAGU, which was 4th best in the conference.
A year ago the team allowed the opposition to score 10+ runs 22 times in 40 games; this spring, just 10 times in 42 games.
Top Three SAGU Batters