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SoCon coaches, media select all-conference teams
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/23/2016
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Mercer's Kyle Lewis
Courtesy: Mercer University
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference coaches and SoCon Sports Media Association have selected their all-conference baseball teams, and Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis repeated as Player of the Year from both organizations. The coaches and media also selected Furman outfielder Jabari Richards as Freshman of the Year and UNCG’s Link Jarrett as Coach of the Year. Furman’s Will Gaddis was named the SoCon Pitcher of the Year by the coaches and shared the award with UNCG’s Andrew Wantz in the media’s picks.

Mercer’s Lewis, a preseason All-American and a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, given annually to the top collegiate player, is vying for the first triple crown in the SoCon since 1975. The junior from Snellville, Ga., currently leads the league with a .411 average (sixth nationally) and is second in RBIs with 64 (seventh nationally) and two back of the league lead with 17 home runs (11th nationally). Lewis also leads the SoCon and ranks in the top 10 nationally with a .729 slugging percentage (sixth nationally), a .545 on-base percentage (third), 64 runs (fifth) and 61 walks, a total that ranks second in the nation and ties for sixth in a single season in league history. Lewis, who has had two hitting streaks of 15 games this season, has had 27 multiple-hit games out of his 56 played and has had 15 multiple-RBI games, including three with at least five runs driven in. The SoCon Player of the Month for March, Lewis helped Mercer to its second straight regular-season league title and will try to help the Bears make it consecutive tournament titles and NCAA appearances. Baseball America evaluates him as the No. 4 overall prospect for this summer’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, while MLB.com has him slotted at No. 3 in its prospect watch.

Furman’s Gaddis posted a 3.79 ERA and a 9-3 record to lead the league in wins during the regular season in a league-high 92 2/3 innings. The sophomore, who is vying to become just the fourth Paladin to reach double digits in wins and the first since Tom Mastny won 11 in 2003, has struck out 84 batters against just 19 walks in his 14 starts, leading the league with a 4.42 strikeout-to-walk ratio. A two-time SoCon Pitcher of the Week selection this season, the right-hander from Brentwood, Tenn., helped the Paladins win their last four league series en route to a fourth-place SoCon finish. Gaddis’ nine wins thus far rank 21st nationally.

UNCG’s Wantz leads the SoCon with a 2.74 ERA and a .198 opposing batting average this season. The right-handed reliever has amassed a 6-1 record and four saves so far this year, striking out 88 and walking 35 in 72 1/3 innings pitched across 32 appearances. The sophomore from Holly Springs, N.C., has also allowed the fewest hits (50), runs (25) and earned runs (22) among qualified SoCon pitchers. Wantz is second in the SoCon and 29th nationally in strikeouts per 9 innings with 10.95. His 6.22 hits allowed per 9 innings rank 26th nationally.

Furman’s Richards is hitting .360 this season, a mark that leads the Paladins and ranks seventh in the SoCon. The rookie outfielder from Fayetteville, Ga., is also seventh in the league with a .653 slugging percentage, a mark that leads all league freshmen, and paces Furman with 11 doubles, three triples and nine home runs despite playing in just 37 games. Richards has posted 20 multi-hit games so far this season and is 10-for-12 in stolen base attempts. In the field, the Paladins’ leadoff hitter has committed just one error on the year.

UNCG’s Jarrett earned his first Coach of the Year award after leading the Spartans to a 37-19 overall record and a 15-9 SoCon mark. The 37 wins are the most for UNCG since the 2003 campaign, while the Spartans’ second-place finish in the league was their best since 2011 and came after the squad was picked to finish fifth in the preseason media and coaches’ polls. Jarrett had UNCG atop the league standings for most of the season and with a chance to clinch its first-ever SoCon regular-season title going into its final contest. The fourth-year skipper has assembled a squad that leads the nation in batting average (.344), hits (685), slugging percentage (.531) and triples (31) and ranks second in doubles (134), on-base percentage (.424), runs (468) and sacrifice flies (36).

The coaches and media selected identical all-conference first teams, with UNCG and Samford leading the league with three selections each. The Spartans put Wantz, third baseman Collin Woody and outfielder L.J. Kalawaia on the first team, while the Bulldogs saw starting pitcher Parker Curry, outfielder Heath Quinn and designated hitter Austin Edens selected to the top squad.

ETSU and Mercer had two first-team picks each, with catcher Hagen Owenby and second baseman Trey York representing the Bucs and Lewis and shortstop Matt Meeder representing the Bears.

Furman’s Gaddis and Western Carolina first baseman Matt Smith round out the first teams.

The coaches and media differed on four positions on the second teams.

Western Carolina put a league-best four players on the coaches’ second team, matching UNCG (two second-team selections) with five total all-conference selections. Mercer and Samford each had four total selections on coaches’ teams.

UNCG had five total all-conference selections in the media teams, while ETSU and Mercer had four each.

The coaches selected a 12-member all-freshman team, with UNCG leading the way with three selections. Furman, Mercer and VMI had two picks each, and The Citadel, Samford and Western Carolina had one selection each.

2016 SoCon Baseball Coaches All-Southern Conference Teams

Player of the Year – Kyle Lewis, Jr., OF, Mercer
Pitcher of the Year – Will Gaddis, So., RHP, Furman
Freshman of the Year – Jabari Richards, OF, Furman
Coach of the Year – Link Jarrett, UNCG

First team
SP Will Gaddis, Furman
SP Parker Curry, Samford
RP Andrew Wantz, UNCG
C Hagen Owenby, ETSU
1B Matt Smith, Western Carolina
2B Trey York, ETSU
SS Matt Meeder, Mercer
3B Collin Woody, UNCG
OF Kyle Lewis, Mercer
OF L.J. Kalawaia, UNCG
OF Heath Quinn, Samford
DH Austin Edens, Samford

Second team
SP Ryan Askew, Mercer
SP Matt Milburn, Wofford
RP Colton Davis, Western Carolina
C Danny Bermudez, Western Carolina
1B Alex Lee, Samford
2B Ben Spitznagel, UNCG
SS Derek Hirsch, Wofford
3B Blake Rowlett, ETSU
OF Trey Truitt, Mercer
OF Bryson Bowman, Western Carolina
OF Kramer Ferrell, Western Carolina
DH Dillon Stewart, UNCG

All-freshman team
Ben Peden, The Citadel
Jake Crawford, Furman
Jabari Richards, Furman
Conard Broom, Mercer
Kevin Coulter, Mercer
Matt Frisbee, UNCG
Andrew Moritz, UNCG
Cesar Trejo, UNCG
Stephen Jones, Samford
Matt Pita, VMI
Josh Winder, VMI
Andrew Bullock, Western Carolina

2016 SoCon Sports Media Association Baseball All-Conference Teams

Player of the Year – Kyle Lewis, Jr., OF, Mercer
Pitchers of the Year – Will Gaddis, So., RHP, Furman
Andrew Wantz, So., RHP, UNCG
Freshman of the Year – Jabari Richards, OF, Furman
Coach of the Year – Link Jarrett, UNCG

First team
SP Will Gaddis, Furman
SP Parker Curry, Samford
RP Andrew Wantz, UNCG
C Hagen Owenby, ETSU
1B Matt Smith, Western Carolina
2B Trey York, ETSU
SS Matt Meeder, Mercer
3B Collin Woody, UNCG
OF Kyle Lewis, Mercer
OF L.J. Kalawaia, UNCG
OF Heath Quinn, Samford
DH Austin Edens, Samford

Second team
SP Ryan Askew, Mercer
SP Matt Milburn, Wofford
RP Will Stillman, Wofford
C Danny Bermudez, Western Carolina
1B Collin Fleischer, VMI
2B Ben Spitznagel, UNCG
SS Robby McCabe, ETSU
3B Blake Rowlett, ETSU
OF Jabari Richards, Furman
OF Trey Truitt, Mercer
OF Bryson Bowman, Western Carolina
DH Dillon Stewart, UNCG

-www.SoConSports.com-

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