Lions Baseball Awards Announced
Up to the task
Wherland, Jett, Ward among those chosen
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team, fresh off the end of their regular season, met on Wednesday to review the year and to announce awards for individual players.
Head Coach Greg Hayes led a 2011 campaign that saw real improvements in both batting and pitching, but they translated into a smaller than expected gain in the squad’s won-lost record. After posting an 8-27 mark a year ago, the Lions upped their ledger to 11-31. The ballclub, winless in the Red River Athletic Conference in 2010, collected five triumphs this spring.
Southwestern showed a substantial improvement in pitching and clear development in both batting and in runs scored, especially against the RRAC. The addition of LSU-Shreveport, ranked in the nation’s Top 5 teams, made the conference as tough as a thirty-cent steak.
SAGU’s advances were often countered by a defense that almost doubled the errors they made in 2010. A number of inspiring pitching efforts were refuted by misplays. SAGU committed an average of 1.91 errors per game a year ago. That figure rose to 2.88 in 2011 when buckskin breakdowns were the main story.
A comparison of the two seasons reveals just how much progress this year’s team enjoyed. The headway made by with their bats saw SAGU move from #184 in the nation (of 207 colleges) to #125 this year.
Baseball Lions Team Stats
|YEAR||BATTING AVG||AVG RUNS (RRAC)||SB||ERA||HRA||OPP. BATTING AVG||FIELDING PCT|
Key: Runs (RRAC) – the average number of runs scored overall and the runs against RRAC opponents. SB – Stolen Bases by the Lions. ERA – Earned Run Average by SAGU pitchers. HRA – Home Runs Allowed by Lions pitchers. Fielding Pct. – Percentage of SAGU fielders’ accuracy with their gloves and arms.
The Lions were playing in Hobbs, New Mexico playing the University of the Southwest in a 3-game series while the remainder of SAGU teams were enjoying the annual Athletic Banquet, hence their own post-season honors yesterday.
The Most Valuable Player award was shared by both Patrick Wherland (Petrolia, Tx / Cedar Valley College) and Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS).
The senior rightfielder, Wherland, led the Lions in batting average (.429), extra-base hits (17) and runs batted in (34). He established several all-time records this season. The speedy Jett, a junior centerfielder, was second only to Wherland in batting (.347). He was tops in runs (33) and was successful on 23 of 25 stolen base attempts. His on-base percentage (.463) led the Purple Pride. Both players were among the top twenty in the RRAC.
The Lions also selected Jett as their 2011 Champion of Character, high praise in the NAIA for integrity and leadership. His involvement in community service and ministry projects continues to be a wholesome model.
Ben Chavez (Roswell, NM / Gateway HS), a transfer from the New Mexico Military Institute, had an exemplary campaign with his attitude while playing at least five positions. The junior was named the winner of the Pride of the Lions award.
The Defensive Player of the Year was presented to Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS). The talented freshman was addicted to glove. He played leftfield, first base and catcher, though not all at the same time! It just seemed that way.
To the surprise of no one was the recipient of the Offensive Player of the Year. Wherland, whose two year career batting average was over .400, gave the team a dependable sultan of swat. His slugging percentage (.552) was best on the team and his 66 base hits set the new single-season record. He hit successfully in 35 of 42 games and had 20 multi-hit games.
As for the standouts on the mound, Southwestern had a pair of hurlers named Co-Pitcher of the Year.
Cameron Ward (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep), easily had the best performance of the Lions starting pitchers. The senior southpaw posted a 4-4 record and a 6.40 ERA, including a pair of nine-inning complete games. Ward had more innings pitched and was one of three to strike out more batters than they walked.
A remarkable feat considering he wasn’t in the starting rotation when the season began. Ward was the only starter with more than one win.
Sharing the Co-Pitcher of the Year honors was the equally impressive Tim Kolczak (San Antonio, Tx / Taft HS). The junior right-handed reliever and recent veteran in the Iraq war, came out of the bullpen to rack up four saves. Only one player in the RRAC had more saves. In 22 innings the closer surrendered just nine walks and struck out 13.
“Kolzee” earned a win and had the team’s best ERA (5.32) of any pitcher who threw more than two innings. He was second only to senior Philip Heider (Malcolm, Neb / Citizens HS) in appearances with 19. Heider, who had a 2-2 record, was called on to pitch in 23 contests.
On Deck for the Lions
Southwestern’s recruiting class will continue reeling in newcomers through the spring and summer. Once the fall semester commences in September, the Lions will hold their annual fall camp. The purpose will be to determine which players will secure starting positions or roles on the team.
Following November and December off, the Lions resume practices in early January. The 2012 regular season is slated to begin later that month.
2011 RRAC Tournament
The Red River tourney will begin on Saturday, April 30, and concludes on Tuesday, May 3. The event will be played at Pilot Field in Shreveport, Louisiana. The schedule is as follows;
11:30 #2 Northwood University (35-14, 24-6 in RRAC) vs. #5 Wiley College (20-19, 17-13)
3:00 #3 Texas Wesleyan (31-21, 20-10) vs. #4 UT-Brownsville (32-22, 19-11)
6:30 #1 LSU-Shreveport (38-13, 26-4) vs. #6 Texas College (27-25, 15-15)
The tournament will continue on Sunday and Monday with games at 11:30am, 3:00pm and 6:30pm on both days during the double-elimination venue. The championship is set for Tuesday at 1:00pm. The RRAC will likely send two teams to the NAIA national tourney.
Texas Wesleyan University, who had the fourth best record during the regular season last year, defeated UT-Brownsville, 16-9, in the finale to win the 2010 RRAC tourney.