Wednesday, 08 May 2024 21:21


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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In advance of the second weekend of the 2024 Great American Conference Baseball Championships the league conducted its year-end awards banquet. Oklahoma Baptist’s Troy Shields won Player of the Year; Harding’s Maddox Long claimed Pitcher of the Year; Ouachita Baptist’s Chase Oberle earned Newcomer of the Year;  Arkansas-Monticello’s Camden Tanner garnered Freshman of the Year and the Weevils’ John Harvey received Coach of the Year. Arkansas Tech’s, Nick Jones and Simon Murray; Arkansas-Monticello’s James McCormick and Harding’s Merritt Jay each received the Elite Scholar Athlete Award - Presented by Conway Regional Health System.

Shields joined former teammate Dan Pruitt as the two Bison lauded as the conference’s Player of the Year. He hit 20 home runs and drove in 77 runs. He ranks in the top 10 nationally in both categories. He ranks inside the top five in the GAC in slugging percentage, runs scored and total bases. Long enters the GAC Championships as one four Division II pitchers with at least 100 strikeouts. He went 5-1 with a 3.36 ERA. His 1.08 WHIP leads the conference. He held opposing batters to a .232 average.

Oberle finished his first season with the Tigers owning the league’s top ERA, 2.23, and the 10th-best in Division II. He went 6-4 with 81 strikeouts in 84.2 innings pitched. Tanner became the third Weevil voted Freshman of the Year. He ranks as one of three Division II freshmen with a .400 average and one of five with a .500 on-base percentage. Harvey collected his third GAC Coach of the Year award of his career.

Shields, Long, Oberle and Tanner headlined the All-GAC First Team. The Bison led the GAC with three First-Team selections as designated hitter Alex Schroeder and second baseman Isiah Lissadejoined Shields. Schroeder’s 22 home runs and 87 RBI lead  Division II. Lissade’s 78 hits and 70 runs lead the GAC.

Fellow starting pitcher Davis Welch gave the Bisons two starting pitchers on the First Team. He ranked second to Long in innings pitched, with 86.0. His ERA of 3.45 ranked fifth. UAM starting pitcher Connor Irvine joined Tanner on the First Team. Irvine won eight of his nine decisions with a 3.73 ERA. He struck out 77 in 82.0 innings. Ouachita Baptist’s Dustin Bermudez joined Oberle on the First Team. The two-way standout hit .320. His 15 home runs ranked third in the league while his five saves ranked fourth. He boasted a 2.41 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.

Arkansas Tech, Northwestern Oklahoma State and Southern Arkansas all produced two First-Team honorees. Reliever Grant Shahan and outfielder Keaton Ranallo represented the Wonder Boys. Shahan appeared in 20 games, worked 58.2 innings, struck out 63 and held opponents to a .212 average. He went 6-1 with three saves. Ranallo ranks second in the league in hitting, third in hits and third in RBI, fifth in total bases and sixth in home runs.

The Rangers’ Dylan Bradford hit .380 with a .491 on-base percentage. He went 13-for-14 in stolen-base attempts. Carson Wright ranked third with a  .389 average. He added a .491 on-base percentage and a .676 slugging percentage.

SAU’s Isaiah Haynes limited opponents to a .128 average as he allowed only six hits in 14.0 innings of  work. He struck out 26, went 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA and five saves. Mulerider shortstop hit .323 with 13  home runs and 43 RBI.

Henderson State third baseman Kaden Argenbright and Southwestern Oklahoma State outfielder Jackson Syring rounded out the First Team. Argenbright  ranked second in the league in hits, 76, en route to breaking the conference’s all-time record with 306. Syring led the conference with a .507 on-base percentage while his .737 slugging percentage ranked second.

The All-GAC Second Team included Southern Arkansas’ Jeremy Adorno, Mikel Howell, Trace Shoup and Jaden Woolbright; Arkansas Tech’s John Gray, Will Horton and Logan Schwenke; Harding’s Michael Dewald, Collin Helms and Cooper Newsom; Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Hagen Barcello, Chad Green and Jacob Shaw; Ouachita Baptist’s G. Allen and Michael Quinones, Henderson State’s Reese Weaks and Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Marco Barrera.

The GAC’s All-Defensive Team consisted of Arkansas-Monticello’s Cade Cancilla and Chaz Poppy, Harding’s Logan Lacey and Drew McNeel, Ouachita Baptist’s Tallon Heine and Cooper Timmons, Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Trevor Saire and Jacob Wiltshire plus Southern Arkansas’ Chris Lyles.

The Honorable Mention All-GAC team featured Oklahoma Baptist’s Spencer Dickinson, Nolan Feazle, Will Joseph and Jayden Shafer; Ouachita Baptist’s Cooper Timmons, Wesley Scott and Cade Burris; Arkansas Tech’s Brendyn Bard and Mason Griffin; Arkansas-Monticello’s Aiden Garrett and Nelson Mercado; Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Paul Sachen and Trevor Saire; Southern Nazarene’s Colby Entwistle and Jacob Martinez; Harding’s Merritt Jay, Southeastern Oklahoma State’s Damon Burroughs, Southern Arkansas’ Tim Ruffino and Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Geoff Marlow.

A total of 21 standouts earned the Distinguished Scholar Athlete honor  - Presented by Conway Regional Health System - in  Arkansas-Monticello’s Tyler Bribiescas, Cade Cancilla, Noah Estrem, Aiden Garrett, Connor Irvine, William Jones, Donald Miller  and Luke Schonauer; Southern Arkansas’ Chance Bolter, Joshua Phillips, and Grant Roosma; Arkansas Tech’s Will Horton, Keaton Ranallo, Luke Ray, Logan Schwenke and Nolan Self; Harding’s  Drew McNeel, Griffin Meeker, Hayden Pike, Will Roguske and Preston Tabor.



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