Southern Conference regular-season baseball champion Western Carolina and runner-up Davidson had five all-conference players each in the Southern
Conference Sports Media Association voting, and Wildcat skipper Dick Cooke was named the SoCon Coach of the Year.
Elon outfielder Casey Jones was named the league Player of the Year, while Georgia Southerns Josh Wirsu was tabbed the Pitcher of the Year and Samford outfielder Heath Quinn was voted the Freshman of the Year.
The SoCon media chose two all-conference teams, with WCU and Davidson putting three each on the first team and two each on the second team. Samford was the only other team with multiple first-team picks, as the Bulldogs had two to complement two second-team selections.
Furman, Georgia Southern and UNCG also had two second-team picks each. Due to a tie in the voting, the second team contained four outfielders. Cooke has guided the Wildcats to a 28-17 overall record and a 17-8 league mark, good for second place behind WCU. Davidson was in contention for its first league title since 1985 heading into its final day of the season but saw the Catamounts take the crown in the battle of the top two teams. Picked 10th in the preseason coaches poll, Davidson turned in its best finish in the league since taking second in the South Division in 1987.
The Wildcats won eight of their nine league series this year. Jones leads the SoCon with a .422 batting average this season, which is 49 points higher than the next-highest average in the league. The junior from Midlothian, Va., also paces the SoCon in slugging percentage (.661), on-base percentage (.504), hits (81), doubles (20) and total bases (127). Jones, who put together a career-best 26-game hitting streak this season, has recorded hits in all but six games this season and 37 of the Phoenixs last 38.
Last week, Jones was named to the watch list for the Gregg Olson Award, which goes to the nations breakout player of the year. Wirsu is 9-3 with a 2.36 ERA this season.
The Eagles ace is holding opposing batters to a league-low .201 average and has struck out 80 batters on the season, tied for second in the SoCon. His nine wins are also tied for second in the conference. Wirsu, a junior right-hander from Harlem, Ga., has gone at least five innings in all but one of his 13 starts this season and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of them.
He struck out 13 batters in a win over Davidson on March 29 and matched that season high in a win over The Citadel a week later. Wirsu was named the SoCon pitcher of the week after his complete game against the Bulldogs.
In addition to being named the SoCon Freshman of the Year, Quinn earned second-team all-conference honors for the Bulldogs. The rookie from Birmingham, Ala., has started 55 games so far this year and is hitting .316 on the season. Quinn is third in the league with 17 doubles and ninth with nine home runs, giving him a slugging percentage of .521.
He has 45 RBIs, good for second on the team, and has scored 44 runs, which is seventh-most in the league. He opened his collegiate career by being named the SoCon player of the week on Feb. 17 after hitting .714 in the Bulldogs three-game series against Valparaiso to open the season, notching at least three hits in each contest.
2014 SoCon Sports Media Association Baseball All-Conference
Player of the Year Casey Jones, Jr., OF, Elon
Pitcher of the Year Josh Wirsu, Jr., RHP, Georgia Southern
Freshman of the Year Heath Quinn, OF, Samford
Coach of the Year Dick Cooke, Davidson
SP Josh Wirsu, Georgia Southern
SP Jordan Smith, Western Carolina
RP Andres Gracia, Samford
C Adam Martin, Western Carolina
1B Jacob Hoyle, Western Carolina
2B Michael Pierson, Appalachian State
SS Tyler Filliben, Samford
3B David Daniels, Davidson
OF Drew DeKerlegand, The Citadel
OF Forrest Brandt, Davidson
OF Casey Jones, Elon
DH Ryan Lowe, Davidson
SP Danny Mooney, Davidson
SP Jeremy Null, Western Carolina
RP Tyler Powell, Western Carolina
C Drew McWhorter, Samford
1B Greg Harrison, Furman
2B Hunter King, UNCG
SS Jordan McDonald, UNCG
3B Chris Ohmstede, Furman
OF Lee Miller, Davidson
OF Stryker Brown, Georgia Southern
OF Aaron Mizell, Georgia Southern
OF Heath Quinn, Samford
DH Bo Thompson, The Citadel
Photo Courtesy: Michael Pierson, App State Athletics