Louisiana Monroe 2009 Baseball Preview: Infield

Senior Matt Collins hit .345 with 52 RBIs last season -Courtesy: ULMAthletics.com

Senior Matt Collins hit .345 with 52 RBIs last season -Courtesy: ULMAthletics.com

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

ULM returns three of its four starters in the infield from last year’s Sun Belt Conference championship team and adds one of the top junior college second basemen in the nation to fill its lone departure.

The Warhawks, who set a school record and led the nation in double plays turned last year, are sure to have one of the top offensive and defensive infields in the Sun Belt.

All-American shortstop Ben Soignier returns for his senior year after hitting .394 with 21 doubles and 16 home runs last season. He set single-season school records for hits (93), runs (83) and total bases (166), and led the NCAA in runs scored per game (1.46).

The honors have already started coming in for Soignier this year as has been named Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year and was named one of the top 10 seniors in the country by Rivals.com. The West Monroe, La., product has also been named to four preseason All-America teams and been named to the Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year Watch List.

The Warhawks also return both of their corner infielders as Matt Collins returns for his senior season at first base and Nick Wade is back for his junior campaign at third base.

Collins returns as one of ULM’s top offensive threats. His 52 RBIs last season are the most by a returning player, while his seven home runs and .345 batting average ranked second only behind Soignier. The Monroe, La., native had a .980 fielding percentage with only 10 errors in over 500 total attempts.

Wade ended the 2008 season on a tear hitting .375 with 17 RBIs, three doubles and four home runs over his final 16 games. Another local product from West Monroe, Wade had just three errors all season long at the hot corner and finished the year with 93 consecutive chances without an error.

LSU-Eunice transfer Boomer Blanchard takes over for Kyle Suire at second base. Blanchard hit .378 with 11 home runs, 24 doubles, six triples, 30 stolen bases and 90 runs scored as the Bengals won the NJCAA National Championship for the second time in three years.

Senior Josh Chappell enters the season as one of the Warhawks top designated hitter candidates, but will also play first base. Chappell hit .305 last season and made just one error in over 70 chances in the field.

Jordy Poche saw a little action in the field last season at second base, but was primarily used as a pitcher and designated hitter.

Junior college transfer Tom O’Gorman enters the season behind Wade at third base. A junior college teammate of catcher Ryan McMillan and pitcher Drew Graham, O’Gorman was a two-time all-conference selection at Cowley County Community College where he hit .345 with eight home runs and 55 RBIs last season.

Will Hardy, a two-time all-state and four-time all-district selection at Neville High School in Monroe, is a versatile infielder for the Warhawks. He has seen action at several positions during the fall and spring practices and brings a .441 batting average with him from high school.

Season tickets are still available and can be purchased by clicking here, by visiting the ULM ticket office in Malone Stadium or by calling 318-342-3ULM.

The Warhawks open play on Friday night at 6 p.m. when they host Northwestern State in the opening game of the ULM Warhawk Classic at Warhawk Field. ULM plays Stephen F. Austin on Saturday night at 7 p.m. and wraps up the weekend on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Mississippi Valley State.