Kats highlight all-SLC selections

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FRISCO – Dakota Mills was named the Southland Conference Relief Pitcher of the Year and Andrew Fregia earned first-team honors, highlighting the Sam Houston State selections on Monday when league officials announced the All-Southland Conference teams.

The announcement comes in advance of this week’s Southland Conference Tournament at Constellation Field in Sugar Land where the Bearkats will enter as the No. 1 overall seed, opening up against No. 8 New Orleans on Wednesday.

Sam Houston finished with four players landing on either the all-SLC first, second or third teams with three more getting honorable mention nods. In addition to Mills and Fregia, Hunter Hearn and Hayden Wesneski were each named to the third team while Blake Chisolm, Clayton Harp and Seth Ballew each received honorable mention.

For Fregia it is the second straight year he has earned all-conference honors after being a third-team selection as a sophomore in 2017 at third base. This year, playing almost exclusively as a shortstop, he has put up the best numbers of his Bearkat career.

He ranks in the top five in the league in slugging percentage (.600), runs (52), RBI (49) and is tied with Northwestern State’s David Frye for the SLC lead with 11 home runs. His seven triples this season has tied his career high, upping his career total to 19 which is a new high-water mark not only at SHSU but also for the Southland Conference.

Mills, meanwhile, becomes the first Bearkat to claim the league’s Relief Pitcher of the Year award since its inception in 2010. He was also placed on the all-SLC second team after what has been an incredible senior season, converting from a starter into the top closer in the league.

He has picked up 14 saves this season to go with a 3-1 record, 3.10 ERA and .238 opponent’s batting average. Mills has logged 49.1 innings in 31 appearances, almost exclusively in relief, but still leads the Bearkats with 72 strikeouts and was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list earlier in the season.

Of his league-best 14 saves, which is the second most in a single season in Bearkat history, 10 have been multi-inning this year. Additionally, his strikeout total ranks seventh in the SLC with the six players ahead of him having thrown no less than 83.0 innings.

Both Hearn and Wesneski landed on an all-conference team for the first time in their careers. Hearn has been one of the SLC’s top sluggers this year, finishing the regular season hitting .300 with nine home runs and 37 RBI, along with 11 doubles and a triple. He had game-winning home runs in extra innings of victories against both Vanderbilt and UIW and has more than doubled his home run total from a year ago.

Meanwhile, Wesneski backed up his 2017 campaign that saw him be named the SLC Freshman of the Year with a year that saw him as the only Bearkat starter to get a start in each weekend series of 2018. He tossed a complete game in his opening game of the year against Kent State and goes into the SLC Tournament leading the Kats with 90.2 innings pitched. That goes with a 3.57 ERA and 64 strikeouts while pitching at least 6.0 innings in each of his last six starts.

Chisolm and Harp have each been key parts of the Bearkat lineup throughout the season as well. Chisolm leads SHSU with a .438 on-base percentage and has hit .328 with eight homers, 11 doubles and 32 RBI. Meanwhile, Harp has blasted five homers of his own – including game-winners against Dallas Baptist and Houston Baptist – to go with a .326 batting average, 10 doubles, a triple and 27 RBI.

Seth Ballew rounded out the Bearkat honorable mention nods after being one of the most reliable SHSU arms available in 2018. The redshirt junior posted a 6-1 record with a 3.16 ERA in 74.0 innings, a mark only behind Wesneski’s inning total. He held hitters to a .239 average and has punched out 55 hitters over his 17 appearances.

2018 Sam Houston State All-Southland Conference Selections
Dakota Mills – Relief Pitcher of the Year; 2nd Team All-SLC Pitcher
Andrew Fregia – 1st Team All-SLC Shortstop
Hunter Hearn – 3rd Team All-SLC Outfield
Hayden Wesneski – 3rd Team All-SLC Pitcher
Blake Chisolm – Honorable Mention First Base
Clayton Harp – Honorable Mention Outfield
Seth Ballew – Honorable Mention Pitcher