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Sophomore Bryce Brentz has been named Sun Belt Player of the Year and First Team outfielder

Sophomore Bryce Brentz has been named Sun Belt Player of the Year and First Team outfielder


NEW ORLEANS – The Sun Belt Conference recognized its top performers on the baseball field with the announcement of the 2009 All-Conference teams on Tuesday. The student-athletes selected to the first and second teams, as voted on by the 11 head coaches, were honored for their consistent play throughout the season, posting impressive numbers all year.

Each team is made up of two starting pitchers, one relief pitcher, a catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, three outfielders, a designated hitter and a utility player. A total of 29 student-athletes received All-Sun Belt honors, including individual award-winners.

Middle Tennessee, the league championship’s top seed, led the way with six players named to the All-Conference teams. The Blue Raiders’ Bryce Brentz was honored as the Sun Belt Player of the Year and was selected as a first team outfielder. Brentz led his team in home runs with 27 and broke the school’s single-season record with back-to-back yard shots against Mississippi Valley State. He also ranked first for the Blue Raiders in runs scored and was tied for first in RBI.

Brentz boasted 18 games with three or more hits and 10 games with three or more RBI, but his talent extended beyond the plate. The sophomore posed a dual threat to opponents, making Friday night appearances on the mound. On the year he recorded a 4.90 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 79 innings of work to earn a 5-3 record.

Starting pitcher Kenneth Roberts and reliever Coty Woods joined Brentz on the first team for Middle Tennessee while teammates Drew Robertson, Rawley Bishop and Nathan Hines all received second-team honors. Robertson was rewarded for his play behind the plate as catcher, Bishop for his work at third base and Hines for his production in the outfield.

Western Kentucky University and FIU followed the Blue Raiders, each having five players chosen as All-Sun Belt honorees.

Three Hilltoppers were named to the first team, including Pitcher of the Year Matt Hightower. Hightower became WKU’s ace midway through the season, moving up a spot in the rotation on his way to posting a 3.59 ERA to lead the Sun Belt. The senior boasted a 6-2 record, and the Hilltoppers went 9-3 in his 13 starts. He ranked second in the league in batting average against, holding opponents to .258 from the plate, and fifth in wins.

Wade Gaynor represented the Toppers as the first team third baseman and Chad Cregar made the cut at the outfield spot. Starting pitcher Matt Ridings and shortstop Terrence Dayleg were voted to the All-Conference second team for WKU. The Toppers received an extra honor as head coach Chris Finwood was selected by his peers as Coach of the Year after leading his team to a 21-8 conference record.

Four Golden Panthers were named to the All-Sun Belt first team—the most of any school. Mike Martinez and Ryan Mollica were chosen as the league’s top first baseman and second baseman, respectively. Teammate Tyler Townsend received first-team accolades at the outfield position while Tim Jobe was recognized for his work as a designated hitter. Tom Ebert rounded out the All-Conference selections for FIU as a starting pitcher for the second team.

ULM’s Boomer Blanchard led the trio of Warhawk student-athletes voted to the All-Sun Belt Squads. Blanchard was named Newcomer of the Year and the second team’s second baseman. In his first year at ULM, he already put his name in the record books, ranking sixth on the single-season runs scored list in program history and eighth on the hits list. He led the Warhawks with 28 multi-hit games and showed his aggressiveness on the bases, becoming the first ULM player in four years to steal three bases in a game.

Shortstop Ben Soignier was voted to the first team for the Warhawks, and Jon Prevost made the second team as an outfielder.

Trojans pitcher Tyler Ray was named Freshman of the Year for his outings on the mound. Ray averaged 6.28 strikeouts per nine innings compared to just 1.98 walks in the same span—he gave up just 17 walks through the entire year. The freshman also showed his consistency and endurance, never working less than 5.0 innings in any start.

Troy added three players to the All-Conference Teams. Michael Precise was named first-team utility player, Chris Sorce was voted the second team’s reliever, and Ryan Ditthardt represented the Trojans as the second team first baseman.

South Alabama’s David Doss was recognized as the first team catcher while Jaguars teammate Adam Heisler was named a second team outfielder. Designated hitter Scott Hawkins of Louisiana-Lafayette and utility player Murray Watts of Arkansas State rounded out the All-Conference selections.

2009 All-Sun Belt Conference Baseball First Team

SP – Kenneth Roberts Middle Tennessee; Matt Hightower WKU

RP – Coty Woods, Middle Tennessee

C – David Doss, South Alabama

1B – Mike Martinez, FIU

2B – Ryan Mollica, FIU

SS – Ben Soignier, ULM

3B – Wade Gaynor, WKU

OF – Tyler Townsend, FIU; Bryce Brentz, Middle Tennessee; Chad Cregar, WKU

DH – Tim Jobe, FIU

U – Michael Precise, Troy

2009 All-Sun Belt Conference Baseball Second Team

SP – Tom Ebert, FIU; Matt Ridings, WKU

RP – Chris Sorce, Troy

C – Drew Robertson, Middle Tennessee

1B – Ryan Ditthardt, Troy

2B – Boomer Blanchard, ULM

SS – Terrence Dayleg, WKU

3B – Rawley Bishop, Middle Tennessee

OF – Jon Prevost, ULM; Nathan Hines, Middle Tennessee; Adam Heisler, South Alabama

DH – Scott Hawkins, Louisiana-Lafayette

U – Murray Watts, Arkansas State

Player of the Year – Bryce Brentz, Middle Tennessee

Pitcher of the Year – Matt Hightower, WKU

Freshman of the Year – Tyler Ray, Troy

Newcomer of the Year – Boomer Blanchard. ULM

Coach of the Year – Chris Finwood, WKU

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