Zach George selected to Preseason All-Sun Belt Baseball Team
NEW ORLEANS (SunBeltSports.org) - UL Lafayette Ragin' Cajun juniors Caleb Adams and Austin Robichaux have been respectively named the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Baseball Player and Pitcher of the Year the league office announced on Monday in a vote of the conference's ten head coaches.
Adams, a designated hitter, finished the 2013 season ranked ninth in the country and second in the SBC in home runs with 16 round-trippers. Adams hit .339 at the plate for the Cajuns and ranked sixth in the league with 55 runs batted in.
Robichaux led the Cajuns with a 9-2 record and a 3.05 ERA. His nine wins were tied for tops in the league, along with Troy's Shane McCain. He finished second in the SBC in strikeouts (88), innings pitched (109.1) and complete games (3).
Adams and Robichaux are two of six Cajuns student-athletes on the preseason All-Conference team. Joining the junior duo is redshirt-junior Michael Strentz at catcher, 2013 SBC Freshman of the Year, Blake Trahan at shortstop, third-baseman Tyler Girouard and outfielder Seth Harrison.
The 2014 version of Ragin' Cajun baseball was also picked to finish first in the league. The Cajuns return eight position starters from a season ago and ten pitchers to a squad that finished 43-20 a season ago. UL-L finished as the runner-up in the SBC tournament as well as the runner-up at the NCAA Baton Rouge regional.
The Cajuns garnered 98 points and eight first-place votes from the coaches. UL-L enters 2014 ranked on several preseason lists.
South Alabama was picked to finish second with 82 points and one first-place vote. USA finished the season with a 43-20 record, tying for the league's regular season title at 20-10 in SBC play.
Senior right-handed pitcher Matt Bell returns to the Jaguar rotation in 2014 after leading USA in wins (6) and tied for the team lead in ERA (3.70). In SBC only play; Bell led all SBC pitchers in ERA (2.87) and opponents' batting average (.214) and runs allowed (20).
Troy's McCain was the Trojans' lone representative on the list. McCain and Trojan head coach Bobby Pierce look to repeat 2013's success as the Trojans finished the campaign tied with USA at 20-10 in league play and 42-20 overall. Troy returns four position starters from last year's squad and eight pitchers.
League newcomers Texas State and UT Arlington round out the top half of the league predicted order of finish ranking fourth and fifth, respectively. The Bobcats earned 57 points while UTA picked up 48 points. Matt Shortall leads the way for the Mavericks who finished 31-27 last season.
Shortall, a senior outfielder, is a 2014 preseason third-team Louisville Slugger All-American selection who hit .362 a season ago with a .560 slugging percentage. Shortall recorded a team-high 27 multi-hit games to go along with eight home runs and 43 RBI.
WKU checks in at sixth in the coaches' poll with 45 points followed by Arkansas State and Georgia State who tied for seventh with 41 points. WKU placed three players on the preseason list in senior outfielder Regan Flaherty and senior third-baseman Scott Wilcox and junior Ian Thompkins.
The Hilltoppers finished fifth in the league last year with a 16-14 SBC record and 28-29 overall record.
A-State and GSU each had one representative on the team. Zach George was chosen from the Red Wolves at first base while Caden Bailey earned the nod at second base for the Panthers.
UALR was picked to finish ninth and UL Monroe, tenth.
2013 was a very successful year for the SBC in baseball as a record-tying four teams were selected to an NCAA Regional, marking the third time this occurred and first since 2002. It was also the first time since 1990 that four teams recorded 40 or more wins.
The four postseason teams marked the 24th time in the past 25 seasons the SBC has sent multiple teams to the NCAA tournament.
2014 SBC Coaches Predicted Order of Finish (first place votes) 1. UL Lafayette (8) - 98 pts 2. South Alabama (1) - 82 pts 3. Troy - 77 pts 4. Texas State - 57 pts 5. UT Arlington - 48 pts 6. WKU - 45 pts 7. Arkansas State - 41 pts 7. Georgia State - 41 pts 9. UALR - 33 pts 10. UL Monroe (1) - 28 pts
2014 Preseason All-Sun Belt Baseball Team Austin Robichaux (UL Lafayette, Junior, SP) Matt Bell (South Alabama, Senior, SP) Shane McCain (Troy, Senior, SP) Ian Tompkins (WKU, Junior, RP) Michael Strentz (UL Lafayette, RS-Junior, C) Zach George (Arkansas State, RS-Junior, 1B) Caden Bailey (Georgia State, Junior, 2B) Blake Trahan (UL Lafayette, Sophomore, SS) Tyler Girouard (UL Lafayette, Junior, 3B) Seth Harrison (UL Lafayette, Senior, OF) Matt Shortall (UT Arlington, Senior, OF) Regan Flaherty (WKU, Senior, OF) Caleb Adams (UL Lafayette, Junior, DH) Scott Wilcox (WKU, Senior, UTIL)
2014 Preseason Player of the Year Caleb Adams (UL Lafayette, Junior, DH)
2014 Preseason Pitcher of the Year Austin Robichaux (UL Lafayette, Junior, SP)