FRISCO, Texas (Press Release)- Five Stephen F. Austin baseball student-athletes earned All-Southland Conference recognition as the league announced its all-conference teams and major awards winners Tuesday afternoon.
Junior Josh Evans earned the title of Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year as well as a spot on the All-Southland Conference First Team as a designated hitter. Senior Zac Michener added another All-Southland Conference honor to his collection by earning a place on the All-Southland Conference Second Team while senior second baseman Nick Ramos and junior relief pitcher Will Vest were placed on the All-Southland Conference Third Team. Sophomore relief pitcher Tyler Starks appeared on the list of All-Southland Conference Honorable Mention selections.
With Evans’ selection as the league’s Newcomer of the Year, SFA has now produced back-to-back winners of that award as Michener earned the accolade in 2016. A product of Ponca City, Okla., Evans turned into one of the nation’s best hitters through the course of his first full season at the NCAA Division I level by leading the 13-team Southland Conference in both batting average (.399) and slugging percentage (.664).
Nationally, Evans ranks 10th in batting average and 25th in slugging percentage and his 10 home runs are the eighth-most in the Southland Conference. Among SFA’s ranks, Evans’ 38 RBI are the second-most and hit 57 hits are the fifth-most. In all, 18 of his 57 hits were of the extra-base variety.
For the second time in as many seasons, Michener made the cut as an All-Southland Conference selection. A senior from Kennedale, Texas, SFA’s everyday right fielder served as the team’s top offensive threat by leading the squad in hits (69), RBI (55), runs score (44), doubles (15) and tied Evans for the team lead with 10 home runs.
Among Southland Conference competition, Michener ranks among the top 15 in eight statistical categories including slugging percentage and sacrifice flies. The senior has posted a slash line of .330/.382/.555 and ranks 44th nationally in RBI
In his final season of collegiate baseball, Ramos took over as the ‘Jacks’ all-time leader in a multitude of statistical categories including at-bats, runs scored and games played. The reigning Southland Conference Hitter of the Week, Ramos head into postseason play armed with a slash line of .314/.400/.373 and ranks second on the team with 64 hits.
Defensively, Ramos has been a steady presence at second base and has totaled 88 putouts and 122 assists. He is one part of an SFA infield that leads the Southland Conference and ranks 19th nationally with 53 double plays turned.
During his first two seasons as a member of the ‘Jacks, Vest made his hay as an infielder but converted to a pitcher prior to the start of the 2017 campaign and found his niche as one of the most reliable relief arms in the league. Hailing from Houston, Texas, Vest took part in 30 of SFA’s 55 regular season games as a relief pitcher and totaled 44.2 innings of work on the hill.
No pitcher in the league made as many appearances as Vest who surrendered just six earned runs and 35 hits en route to compiling a 3-0 record with a 1.21 ERA. The hard-throwing right-hander has racked up 45 strikeouts against just 18 walks.
Nearly at halfway through with his collegiate career, Starks continued to serve as the ‘Jacks’ closer as a sophomore. The Mesquite, Texas, product went 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 29 games - all of which were in relief. He totaled four saves in his 34.1 innings of work, bringing his career total up to 11 which is the fifth-highest career total in the history of SFA baseball.
Starks fanned 45 batters and gave up just 10 earned runs while walking only 18 batters.
SFA is one of eight teams who compose the 2017 Southland Conference Tournament field and the ‘Jacks will open the league’s postseason tournament Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas. Sixth-seeded SFA takes on third-seeded and defending Southland Conference Tournament champion Sam Houston State.