ABILENE -- ACU senior catcher Seth Spivey was voted second team all-Southland Conference as the league office announced the all-conference team Monday. The team was voted on by the league's head coach and sports information directors.
Sam Houston State catcher Anthony Azar -- who helped the Bearkats to their third straight regular season championship -- was named the league's Player of the Year, while Lamar senior shortstop Sam Bumpers was tabbed as the league's Hitter of the Year.
Nicholls senior left-handed pitcher Taylor Byrd was named the conference's Pitcher of the Year. Oral Roberts junior right-handed pitcher Jordan Romano was named the Southland Relief Pitcher of the Year, and Southeastern Louisiana junior outfielder Andrew Godbold was selected as the Newcomer of the Year. Northwestern State freshman right-handed pitcher Adam Oller was named the Freshman of the Year. Nicholls head coach Seth Thibodeaux was named the Clay Gould Coach of the Year for the first time.
Spivey is ninth in the league in hitting at .340 and ranks fifth in slugging percentage (.518), seventh in on-base percentage (.438), seventh in runs scored (43), tied for sixth in doubles (14), tied for sixth in triples (three), and just outside the top 10 in both home runs (five) and RBI (33).
Azar ranked among the Southland's top-five players in seven different categories, including leading the league in slugging percentage (.558). The senior from The Woodlands, Texas (The Woodlands H.S.), also ranked second in RBI (44) and total bases (111), third in batting average (.369) and home runs (nine) and fourth in hits (76) and on-base percentage (.450).
Azar managed the second best pitching staff in the conference with a 2.81 team ERA, which ranks in the top 25 nationally. He also is Sam Houston's first semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, which goes to the nation's top catcher. Sam Houston earned the top seed in this week's tournament after winning its third consecutive regular-season title.
Bumpers ranked in the top 10 in almost every offensive category, including ranking first in the league in total bases (116).
The senior from Bourbornnais, Ill. (Bradley-Bourbornnais H.S.), was second behind Azar in slugging percentage (.527), tied for third in triples (three) and tied for fourth in hits (76). Last season's newcomer of the year also tied for sixth in doubles (14), tied for eighth in home runs (six) and tied for seventh in runs scored (43). Bumpers' .345 batting average was eighth-best in the league and led the Cardinals' offense along with his .413 on-base percentage, which was 10th-best in the Southland.
Byrd was named the Southland's top pitcher after ranking second the league with a 1.92 earned-run average. His 80 strikeouts this season also ranks second in the league and his eight wins are third best. Twenty-four of his 80 strikeouts caught batters looking, which is the sixth highest in the conference. The senior from Petal, Miss. (Petal H.S.), tossed 89.0 innings while allowing 19 earned runs. In 14 starts, Byrd walked only 27 batters while limiting opponents to a .246 batting average against him.
Romano is the sixth recipient of the conference's relief pitcher of the year award and the first ORU player to receive the honor. The senior from Markham, Ontario (Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy), led the league with 12 saves this year. His 12 saves were four more than the next highest conference reliever and are tied for 13th most in the nation.
Oller becomes the first Demon to be named the league's freshman of the year. The freshman from Conroe, Texas (Concordia Lutheran H.S.), was the league's top freshman with a 2.18 ERA, which ranked third overall. He tied for 11th in the Southland with six wins and tossed the 15th-most innings (86.2). He led the team with three complete games.
Godbold is the second Southeastern Louisiana player to earn newcomer of the year award, joining Anthony Garibaldi (2003). The junior from Oak Park, Ill. (Oak Park and River Forest H.S.), led the Lions with eight home runs and was second with a .353 batting average, which were fourth-and fifth-best in the Southland, respectively.
Houston Baptist's Jones is the first recipient of the league's utility player of the year award. The junior from Cypress, Texas (Cypress Ranch H.S.), led the Huskies with a .361 batting average and was also first on the team in runs scored (33) and hits (82). He recorded five doubles on the year and was the toughest Husky to strike out, having only fanned 16 times in 227 at bats. On the mound as HBU's No. 2 starter, pitched a team-high 89.0 innings and posted a 3.64 ERA, which was second among the Huskies' starting pitchers.
After guiding the Colonels to a second-place regular-season finish, Thibodeaux was tabbed the Southland coach of the year. Nicholls finished 21-9 in conference play and will take a 32-24 overall record as the No. 2 seed into conference tournament later this week. Thibodeaux is the first Colonel coach to earn this distinction after having a 12-win turnaround in conference play from a season ago.
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