FROM PRESS RELEASE
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Ouachita Baptist senior first baseman Destan Makonnen was named Co-Gulf South Conference West Division Player of the Year Thursday.
Makonnen earns just the second major Gulf South Conference award in Ouachita Baptist baseball history, but is the second straight Tiger named GSC West Player of the Year as Jeremy Haworth took that award last season.
The senior from Grand Rapids, Mich., led the Tigers and the Gulf South Conference in home runs while also leading Ouachita Baptist in slugging percentage, RBIs and total bases and finishing among the league’s top 10 in those categories. Makonnen was tied for third in the conference and 19th in the nation in walks (40) while being in the top 15 in the NCAA in home runs and home runs per game.
It was just the second time since the award’s inception in 1997, that the GSC West Division Player of the Year honor was split as Delta State catcher Rickey Noland also earned the honor.
Ouachita Baptist placed four on the All-Gulf South Conference First Team and three on the second team.
Makonnen and Justin Pennell earned their second straight honor to the first team, while Rudy Jovanovski and Steve Smith made their first appearance.
Pennell, who was recently named GSC West Player of the Week, is third on the team in batting with a .344 average. The Toronto, Canada native has 62 hits, 60 runs batted in, 55 runs scored, 13 home runs, 11 doubles and one triple.
Jovanovski is second in batting with a .379 average. The native of Sterling Heights, Mich., has 72 hits, 54 RBIs, 50 runs scored, 17 doubles and 10 home runs. Smith is the ace of the Tigers staff in compiling a 7-1 record and a 2.23 ERA. The native of Texarkana, Ark., has pitched in 97 innings with three complete games. He has amassed 102 strikeouts.
Hayden Simpson of Southern Arkansas was tabbed GSC Freshman of the Year.
Chandler Boyce, Blake Lockwood and Chase Baran were selected to the second team.
Boyce, a native of Edmond, Okla., earned the honor as a designated hitter. He is batting .301 with 50 hits, 38 runs scored, 25 runs batted in, nine doubles, three triples and a pair of home runs. Lockwood is the leadoff batter for the Tigers and leads the GSC in stolen bases as he is 43-of-52 on the season. The native of Stuttgart, Ark., is batting .323 with 63 hits, 60 runs scored, 28 RBIs, nine doubles and three triples.
Baran, a native of Boyd, Texas, leads the Tigers in wins by compiling a 9-2 record and a 3.77 ERA. He has two complete games while pitching in 71 2/3 innings. He has 66 strikeouts on the season.
Ouachita Baptist, the West Division No. 3 seed, opens the tournament 7:30 p.m., against West Alabama, the East Division No. 2 seed, at USA Baseball Stadium. The game will be available to listen to and viewed on the Ouachita Baptist athletic Web site at: www.obutigers.com. Directions to the stadium can be found as well as a tournament bracket at: www.gulfsouthconference.org.