RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – On the eve of the 2021 Great American Conference Baseball Championships, the league announced its All-GAC teams and awarded its top individual honors. Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Alex Bedard won Player of the Year; Harding’ Ryder Yakel and Michael Chrisman earned Pitcher of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, respectively; Southeastern Oklahoma State’s Seth Morrow garnered Freshman of the Year and Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Ryan Bowen captured Coach of the Year.
Bedard became the first Bulldog named Player of the Year. He hit .398 with a .476 on-base percentage. He led the GAC and ranked in the top 10 in the nation with 57 runs scored and 30 stolen bases. Morrow finished the regular season tied for the league’s lead with 51 RBI. He ranked in the top seven in five major offensive categories.
One season after receiving Newcomer of the Year, Yakel claimed the Bisons’ first GAC Pitcher of the Year. He led the conference with a 2.70 ERA, a .185 opponent’s batting average and a 0.88 WHIP. In 14 appearances, he picked up six wins and six saves. He struck out 52 in 50.0 innings pitched. Chrisman ended the regular season as one of seven players in the GAC with at least a .400 batting average. His 68 hits led the GAC and he placed in the top five in runs, triples, stolen bases and total bases.
Bowen led the Rangers to their first GAC Championship berth in program history. Despite the abbreviated schedule, the Rangers won their most games, 26, in their Division II era.
Bedard, Morrow, Yakel and Chrisman all added All-GAC First-Team honors to their accolades. Arkansas Tech’ starting pitcher Patrick Miner earned First-Team honors by unanimous vote. He led the league with 89 strikeouts, tied for the top spot with eight wins and ranked second with a 3.57 ERA. The top-seeded Wonder Boys matched the GAC high with three First-Team selections. Outfielder Josh Detweiler and designated hitter Evan Hafley joined Miner on the First Team.
Southern Arkansas, the regular-season co-champion with Arkansas Tech also put three on the First Team in starting pitcher Jacob Womack, catcher Brett McGee and second baseman Austin Baker. Arkansas-Monticello also produced three First-Team honorees in third baseman Jordan Johnson, shortstop Dylan Borman and starting pitcher River Hunt.
SWOSU first baseman Drew White, Henderson State starting pitcher Spencer Taack and Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Marques Paige rounded out the First Team.
Northwestern Oklahoma State and Oklahoma Baptist each placed four players on All-GAC Second Team. Starting pitcher Scott Creedon, reliever Kaleb Honea, outfielder Daschal Johnson and designated hitter Blake Hoffman represented the Rangers. Infielders Hector Ruvalcaba and Kaimana Bartolome plus starting pitcher Jake Lipetzky and outfielder Walker Keller made the team from the Bison. The rest of the All-GAC Second Team featured UAM’s Mason Philley and Andrew Piraino, Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Keyshaun Smith and Zach Baxley, Arkansas Tech’s Jonathon Arrieta, Harding’s Connor Kelly, Henderson State’s Danny Mitchell and SAU’s Zach Smith
The Honorable Mention All-GAC Team consisted of Arkansas Tech’s Hayes Cox and Trace Maddux, Harding’s Harrison Heffley and Cody Smith, Henderson State’s Taylor Langston and Joe Myers, Southern Arkansas’ Tucker Burton and Ty Manning, Ouachita’s Luke Scaggs and Cooper Timmons, Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Nate Postlethwait and Miguel Soto, Arkansas-Monticello’s Grant Shepherd, Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Grant French, Oklahoma Baptist’s Ramon Enriquez and Southern Nazarene’s Colby Entwistle.
Bedard also earned a spot on the league’s All-Defensive Team. Harding led the conference with four All-Defensive selections in Kelly, Smith, David Butterfield and Luke Van Dover. Arkansas Tech’s Cox and Matt Robbins, Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Johnson and Arkansas-Monticello’s Aaron Gaela filled out the team.