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Baseball postseason awards announced
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/20/2019
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Western Carolina's third baseman Justice Bigbie and Samford's head coach Casey Dunn
Courtesy: Southern Conference
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference coaches and SoCon Sports Media Association (SCSMA) have selected their all-conference baseball teams, with Western Carolina third baseman Justice Bigbie sweeping the Player of the Year award and Samford head coach Casey Dunn sweeping Coach of the Year honors. The conference coaches voted UNC Greensboro relief pitcher Chad Sykes the Pitcher of the Year and Wofford starting pitcher Hayes Heinecke the Freshman of the Year, while Samford starting pitcher Zach Hester was named the SCSMA pitcher of the year and Samford’s Sonny DiChiara was named the SCSMA Freshman of the Year.

Western Carolina’s Bigbie paced the league in batting average this season, hitting .371 for the Catamounts as well as holding third in the league in runs batted in with 50. The Chesapeake, Virginia, native ranks in the top 100 in the nation in batting average, hits, home runs, RBIs per game, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and hits per game. The sophomore collected 73 hits, including 11 doubles and 12 home runs, and recorded a .609 slugging percentage and a .462 on-base percentage. He was just as solid in the field, recording 44 putouts, 78 assists and a .924 fielding percentage. He is the 16th Catamount in school history to be named Player of the Year by the coaches and the fourth by the SCSMA.  

Sykes, named the 2019 Pitcher of the Year by the coaches, leads the the nation, NCAA Division I with a 0.87 earned run average. The redshirt senior allowed only seven doubles and no triples or home runs during the regular season while holding opposing batters to a .175 batting average. He finished the regular season with a 5-3 overall record over 52 innings pitched, recording 63 strikeouts and only allowing six runs over the 183 batters he faced. The Creedmoor, North Carolina, native is only the second pitcher in UNCG history to be named Pitcher of the Year by the coaches.

Voted the 2019 Pitcher of the Year by the SCSMA, Hester posted a 7-4 regular-season record while appearing and starting in 14 games for the Bulldogs. He recorded a 2.09 ERA, good for third-best in the conference, while holding opposing batters to a .210 average. Over his 77 2/3 innings pitched, the junior from Vidor, Texas, allowed just 11 doubles, one triple and five home runs and recorded 78 strikeouts while facing 286 batters. Hester is the first pitcher in Samford history to be named Pitcher of the Year by the SCSMA.

Heinecke, voted this year’s Freshman of the Year by the coaches, appeared and started in 14 games for the Terriers this season. He led the Terriers in ERA (2.80) and opposing batting average (.242) and is tied for first in the conference in wins (nine). The Fayetteville, Georgia, native held batters to two triples and four home runs over 306 batters faced and struck out 75 in 80 1/3 innings pitched while picking off four baserunners. The freshman is just the second Terrier in school history to be named Freshman of the Year in the coaches’ poll. The last Terrier to be honored as Freshman of the Year was Matt Lein in 2002.

Named the 2019 Freshman of the Year by the SCSMA, DiChiara ranks 18th in the nation in home runs per game (0.35) and 14th in the nation in home runs (18). He stands at third in the league in slugging percentage (.622) and second in the league in RBIs (51) and home runs. The Hoover, Alabama, native started in all 51 games for the Bulldogs this season, recording a .283 batting average, .622 slugging percentage and a .405 on-base percentage in 180 at bats.

The Bulldogs’ Dunn earns his first Coach of the Year award, in both the coaches’ and media poll. He guided the Bulldogs to a 39-17 overall and 19-5 SoCon record, helping them secure Samford’s first regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed for the tournament. Dunn, who is in his 15th season at the helm of the program, has now directed Samford to 35 or more wins in three straight seasons, helping the 2019 squad sweep four SoCon opponents.

In addition to voting for the individual awards, the coaches and media selected all-conference first and second teams and the coaches picked an all-freshman team.

Samford had a league-best five first-team selections on the coaches’ team and a league-best four first-team selections on the media team and produced a league-high 13 selections total. ETSU and Western Carolina each earned two first-team selections on the coaches’ poll while UNCG, ETSU and Western Carolina earned two apiece on the media first team.

UNCG, Mercer and Furman boasted two second-team selections on the coaches’ second team while ETSU, The Citadel and Samford each had one. 

Wofford led the league in second-team selections in both the media and coaches’ poll with four and three, respectively. The Terriers also put three on the all-freshman team in infielder Matty Brown, infielder John Dempsey and lefthander Heinecke.

Wofford and UNCG each put three on the all-freshman team while ETSU put two and The Citadel, Furman, Mercer, Samford and Western Carolina each put one.

Rounding out the media second-team selections are UNCG’s Greg Hardison (outfield) and Hogan Windish (designated hitter), ETSU’s Cullen Smith (second baseman), VMI’s Zak Kent (starting pitcher), Samford’s Stephen Jones (relief pitcher) and Branden Fryman (shortstop), Mercer’s Angelo DiSpigna (first baseman) and Kel Johnson (outfield) and Furman’s Dax Roper (catcher).

Micah Kaczor (starting pitcher) and Skyes (relief pitcher), Jackson Greer (catcher), DiChiara (first base), Brett Rodriguez (second base), Bigbie (third base), Matthew Koehler (outfield), Jordan Fucci (outfield) and Brooks Carlson (designated hitter) were all named to both the coaches’ and media first teams.

Heinecke (starting pitcher), Jones (relief pitcher), Roper (catcher), Smith (second base) and Windish (designated hitter) were all named to both the coaches’ and media second teams

2019 SoCon Baseball Coaches All-Southern Conference Teams
Player of the Year –
Justice Bigbie, 3B, Western Carolina, So.

Pitcher of the Year – Chad Sykes, RHP, UNCG, R-Sr.
Freshman of the Year – Hayes Heinecke, LHP, Wofford
Coach of the Year – Casey Dunn, Samford  

First team
SP                   Micah Kaczor, ETSU, Sr.  

SP                   Zach Hester, Samford, Jr.
RP                   Chad Sykes, UNCG, R-Sr.  
C                     Jackson Greer, ETSU, Jr.  
1B                    Sonny DiChiara, Samford, Fr.
2B                    Brett Rodriguez, Wofford, Jr.
SS                   Brandon Fryman, Samford, Jr.
3B                    Justice Bigbie, Western Carolina, So.
OF                   Matthew Koehler, Western Carolina, R-Sr.  
OF                   Kel Johnson, Mercer, Gr.
OF                   Jordan Fucci, Samford, R-Jr.
DH                   Brooks Carlson, Samford, So.  

Second team (13 due to tie in voting)
SP                   Hayes Heinecke, Wofford, Fr.

SP                   Kevin Coulter, Mercer, Sr.  
RP                   Stephen Jones, Samford, Sr.
C                     Dax Roper, Furman, R-So.  
1B                    Ben Peden, The Citadel, Sr.
2B                    Cullen Smith, ETSU, Jr.
SS                   RJ Yeager, Mercer, So.
3B                    John Dempsey, Wofford, Fr.

3B                    Caleb Webster, UNCG, Jr.
OF                   Jabari Richards, Furman, Sr.
OF                   Hudson Byorick, Wofford, Jr.
OF                   Colin Davis, Wofford, So.
DH                   Hogan Windish, UNCG, R-Fr.

 

All-freshman team (13 due to tie in voting)

Tyler Corbitt, INF, The Citadel

Colby Emmertz, OF/C, ETSU

Nathanial Tate, RHP, ETSU

Rob Hughes, RHP, Furman

Angelo DiSpigna, INF, Mercer

Zack Budzik, INF, UNCG 

Austin Koehn, RHP, UNCG

Hogan Windish, INF, UNCG

Sonny DiChiara, INF, Samford

Colin Bertsch, INF, Western Carolina

Matty Brown, INF, Wofford

John Dempsey, INF, Wofford

Hayes Heinecke, LHP, Wofford

 

2019 SoCon Sports Media Association Baseball All-Conference Teams
Player of the Year –
Justice Bigbie, 3B, Western Carolina, So.  

Pitcher of the Year – Zach Hester, RHP, Samford, Jr.  
Freshman of the Year – Sonny DiChiara, 1B, Samford
Coach of the Year – Casey Dunn, Samford

 First team
SP                   Zach Hester, Samford, Jr.  

SP                   Micah Kaczor, ETSU, Sr.
RP                   Chad Sykes, UNCG, R-Sr.
C                     Jackson Greer, ETSU, Jr.
1B                    Sonny DiChiara, Samford, Fr.
2B                    Brett Rodriguez, Wofford, Jr.  
SS                   Zack Budzik, UNCG, Fr.
3B                    Justice Bigbie, Western Carolina, So.   
OF                   Matthew Koehler, Western Carolina, R-Sr.
OF                   Jordan Fucci, Samford, R-Jr.
OF                   Jabari Richards, Furman, Sr.  
DH                   Brooks Carlson, Samford, So.

Second team
SP                   Hayes Heinecke, Wofford, Fr.

SP                   Zak Kent, VMI, Jr.   
RP                   Stephen Jones, Samford, Sr.  
C                     Dax Roper, Furman, R-So.  
1B                    Angelo DiSpigna, Mercer, Fr.
2B                    Cullen Smith, ETSU, Jr.
SS                   Branden Fryman, Samford, Jr.
3B                    John Dempsey, Wofford, Fr.
OF                   Kel Johnson, Mercer, Gr.
OF                   Greg Hardison, UNCG, So.
OF                   Mike Brown, Wofford, Jr.
DH                   Hogan Windish, UNCG, R-Fr.

 

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