May 24, 2010
FRISCO, Texas - The Southland Conference announced its annual postseason honors and all-conference teams Monday with head coach Johnny Cardenas being named the league's top skipper while pitcher Tyler Herriage, outfielder Garrett Smith and first baseman Darren Crabtree were each named to the all-conference squads.
Herriage was one of three pitchers named to the league's second team, while Smith and Crabtree each found their way onto the third team. In addition, outfielder Bo Coffman, catcher Jarid Scarafiotti and third baseman Bobby Loveless each received an honorable mention nod.
It is the second year in a row, and the third time in four years, that SFA has had three players named to the all-conference squad, which ties the mark for the most players selected for the program.
For Cardenas, it marks the first time an SFA coach has ever been honored as the league's Coach of the Year and is just the third time that SFA has ever taken a postseason superlative award. Steven Hill was named the league's hitter and player of the year in 2007.
Cardenas, in just his second year as the head man at SFA, has led the 'Jacks to their most successful season in recent memory. SFA took two of three games from Lamar over the weekend to run its record to 34-18 on the year, tying the most wins by an SFA team in the history of the program and securing the Lumberjacks' highest-ever finish in the SLC. The 'Jacks were within just 1.5 games of first place with just two weeks remaining in the season will head into this week's Southland Conference Tournament as the No. 4 seed, the highest tournament seed the team has ever secured.
"It is definitely an honor to be named the Southland Conference Coach of the Year," Cardenas said. "There are a number of very good coaches in this league and to be held in high regard with them is very humbling, but in the end it is an award that is given out due to the success of the team, our players and my assistants Chris Connally, Chad Massengale, Monty Pepper and Jeffrey Kello. This award belongs to the each of them just as much as to me as an individual."
Herriage is the second SFA pitcher in as many years to be named to the league's second team after Erich Lehmann did so one year ago. The junior transfer from Weatherford College has been steady in the Friday slot for SFA, making 14 starts this year, allowing more than three earned runs in an outing on just one occasion. Herriage currently leads the SLC in ERA with his 2.39 mark that would qualify as the lowest ERA to lead the league since Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston in 2007. He is also second in the league in opponent's batting average, holding hitters to just a .231 mark.
The Lewisville, Texas, native had a season-high 23-inning scoreless streak that spanned three starts late in the season, and finished the regular season with an 8-3 overall record. With one more victory to his credit Herriage would tie Erich Lehmann's 2007 total of nine wins for the single-season record at SFA. In all, 11 of Herriage's outings have seen him go at least six innings, with the 'Jacks going 10-4 in games that he has started this season.
"Our main objective in recruiting in the off-season was to find a legitimate top pitcher that we could put out there every Friday night, and we found that in Tyler," Cardenas said.
Smith was Herriage's teammate at Weatherford the last two seasons and joins him this year on the all-conference team as one of three outfielders on the third team. The junior was solid all year, but got hot late in the year and pushed his batting average all the way to .373 to conclude the year, the sixth-highest mark in the conference. His 24 multi-hit games were the most on the Lumberjack roster, while driving in 29 runs and hitting three home runs.
Smith has also swiped 14 bases this season with 17 doubles, just one two-bagger shy of the single-season record at SFA. The Carthage, Texas, native has also had his share of late-game heroics this year, throwing out a runner at home plate from center field for the final out to secure a one-run win at UTPA and hitting a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
"Garrett has done an amazing job for us this season, and he is very deserving of all of the recognition that he gets," Cardenas said. "We had a mainstay in center field the last four years with Zach Gardner, and it was going to be a tough job for anyone to come in and fill his shoes; but, Garrett has exceeded our expectations this year with what he has provided us both in his production and with his leadership."
Crabtree also made his way on the league's third team at first base with a season that has him leading the 'Jacks with 10 home runs and second with 49 RBI. He is the only Lumberjack this season to win a league player of the week honor, doing so after a record-setting performance at Central Arkansas in the opening weekend of conference play. Part of that weekend included a 6-for-6 game in the middle of the series in which Crabtree drove in eight runs, setting the school record for both single-game hits and RBI.
His 10 home runs this year makes him the first Lumberjack hitter since his brother, Kevin, in 2008 to reach double-digits in long balls in a season. The junior transfer from Temple College will enter the SLC Tournament this weekend hitting at a .323 clip, while ranking second on the club with a .629 slugging percentage and leading the team with a .444 on-base percentage.
"Darren has given us a dangerous, powerful left-handed bat in the middle of our lineup this year," Cardenas said. "He is a guy that pitchers really have to be aware of wherever he is in the lineup."
SFA also tied for the most honorable mention selections in this year's voting as Coffman, Loveless and Scarafiotti were each recognized in the postseason for the first time. Coffman is one of just three seniors on the Lumberjack roster and has hit .320 this year with six homers and 39 RBI, all numbers that are up significantly from his junior campaign. He also has smacked 17 doubles this season, a mark that is tied with Smith just one double behind the school's single-season mark of 18.
Loveless and Scarafiotti have each been mainstays in the middle of SFA's lineup throughout the year with Loveless hitting .356 with eight home runs and a team-leading 50 RBI. Scarafiotti finished the regular season hitting .308 with seven home runs and 46 RBI, with his RBI total leading all SLC catchers this year.
SFA opens up the SLC Tournament Wednesday at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi. The 'Jacks enter the tournament as the No. 4 overall seed and will face No. 5 UT-Arlington in the 7:00 p.m. game on the tournament's opening day. It will be the first time SFA has ever played a postseason game as a higher seed.