OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Big 12 Champion Texas A&M baseball team placed 12 on the annual All-Big 12 squads, while claiming the player, newcomer and coach of the year awards, the league announced Tuesday.
In just his third season, Aggie skipper Rob Childress was named Big 12 Coach of the Year. After engineering the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I baseball and claiming the Big 12 postseason title last year, Childress led the 2008 A&M team to 42 wins and its first regular-season crown in nine years.
“I think of this award as the Big 12 Coaching Staff of the Year,” Childress said. “I feel honored to be at Texas A&M and working with such a great staff. It’s not an individual honor, it’s a staff honor and team honor. Good players make good coaches, and good assistant coaches make good head coaches. I’m blessed to have the players and coaches that we have working with us.”
Through a vote of the league’s head coaches, junior Jose Duran was named both the Big 12 Player of the Year and the conference’s Newcomer of the Year.
Duran, along with senior Dane Carter, juniors Luke Anders and Kyle Colligan, and sophomore Travis Starling, were named to the All-Big 12 First Team. Senior Darby Brown and junior Brian Ruggiano were tabbed second-team All-Big 12, while five more Aggies (Clayton Ehlert, Barret Loux, Brooks Raley, Blake Stouffer, Kyle Thebeau) were named honorable mention All-Big 12.
“It’s a great honor and thrill for me to win this award, especially in a conference like the Big 12,” Duran said. “Every team has a great player—especially us, where anyone, one through nine in the lineup, could have won this award. Everyone on the team has gotten the job done all year long.”
Duran (Fort Worth, Texas) hit a league- and team-best .397 during the regular season with five home runs and 61 RBI. He topped the Big 12 with 94 hits and ranked second in triples (seven) and runs batted in. In league games only, Duran led the league in batting average (.432), hits (51) and total bases (72) while ranking second in on-base percentage (.496). He put together a 24-game hit streak on the year and hit safely in all but two Big 12 games in ’08.
“Jose’s gone above and beyond and done everything that he’s been asked to do,” Childress said. “He came in and replaced a guy that was so important to our team (Brandon Hicks), and there’s a lot of pressure in that. He’s definitely gone above and beyond that. He’s been banged up the second half of the year and has never asked for a day off. He’s a tough kid and I’m very glad that he’s a part of our team.”
Carter (Graham, Texas) had a monster year for the Aggies at third base. The senior hit .383 with 13 doubles, eight triples, eight home runs and 58 runs driven in. Carter ranks first or second on the team in 15 offensive categories entering postseason play, while his eight triples leads the nation.
Anders (College Station, Texas) bashed a team-best 13 home runs in 2008 to go along with a .348 average and 50 RBI. His .652 slugging percentage ranks second in the Big 12 and was waked or hit by a pitch a total of 51 times.
Colligan (Houston, Texas), one of the best defensive center fielders in the league, hit .312 on the year with 15 doubles, nine home runs and 12 stolen bases. He finished the regular season ranked second on the squad and third in the Big 12 with 57 runs scored.
Starling (Yoakum, Texas), one of the top closers in the league and country, posted an 8-0 record with a team-high nine saves out of the bullpen. Nine of those decisions (six wins, three saves) came in Big 12 play. The sophomore locked down the Aggies’ thrilling extra-inning victories over Texas Tech, Baylor and Nebraska, among others, and picked up a pair of wins over top-five teams in 2008 (No. 4 Missouri, No. 5 Nebraska). Starling’s nine saves in ’08 place him four shy of the A&M single-season record.
Brown (Lubbock, Texas) shook off a brief slow start to the year and hit .337 over the regular season, fourth-best on the team, while ranking second in home runs (9) and third in RBI (55). The senior had a tremendous Big 12 campaign, posting a .369 average with five home runs and a league-best 34 runs batted in.
Ruggiano (Austin, Texas) started games at four positions for the Aggies in 2008, primarily at catcher and in right field, and posted a .318 average. His 13 home runs rank fourth on the squad, and he was one of only four players to appear in all 56 games.
The Aggie starting weekend rotation of Raley (Uvalde, Texas), Loux (Houston, Texas) and Ehlert (Orange, Texas) all earned honorable mention accolades. The trio has combined this season for 16 wins and a 3.89 ERA. Thebeau (Corpus Christi, Texas) made 27 appearances out of the pen, picking up five wins, three saves and a team-best 1.87 ERA. Stouffer (San Antonio) was very impressive defensively in his first year at second base, while impressing at the plate and on the basepaths with 11 doubles, five home runs, 34 RBI and a team-best 15 stolen bases.
“There’s been a different hero all year long, and at times all 12 of these kids have stepped up and been that,” Childress said. “There’s several kids that weren’t recognized that have stepped up and made a big pitch or a great play as well. It’s a collective group of players that have bonded together and played for one another, and they’ve been fun to be around. They are easy to coach.”
Texas A&M opens play in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Wednesday, when the top-seeded Aggies face No. 8-seed Oklahoma at 12:30 p.m. at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. Scott Migl (3-2, 4.73 ERA) will get the ball for A&M and is scheduled to face off against OU righty Andrew Doyle (7-4, 4.71). Fans in Bryan/College Station can listen to the game on WTAW-AM 1620. Those around the country can follow the action with free live video on aggieathletics.com and big12sports.com.
2008 ALL-BIG 12 BASEBALL AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: José Duran, Texas A&M, SS, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas/North Central Texas College
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Aaron Crow, Missouri, RHP, Jr., Wakarusa, Kan./Washburn Rural
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Chance Ruffin, Texas, RHP, Fr., Austin, Texas/Lake Travis
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: José Duran, Texas A&M, SS, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas/North Central College
COACH OF THE YEAR: Rob Childress, Texas A&M
ALL-BIG 12 FIRST TEAM
Name, School, Pos., Cl., Hometown/Previous School
Luke Anders, Texas A&M, 1B, Jr., College Station, Texas/A&M Consolidated
Jake Opitz, Nebraska, 2B, Sr., Littleton, Colo./Heritage
José Duran, Texas A&M, SS, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas/North Central College
Dane Carter, Texas A&M, 3B, Sr., Graham, Texas/Graham
Mitch Abeita, Nebraska, C, Sr., Dallas, Texas/North Central Texas College
Aaron Senne, Missouri, OF, So., Rochester, Minn./Mayo
Neil Medchill, Oklahoma State, OF, So., Oxford, Mich./Chandler-Gilbert CC
Kyle Colligan, Texas A&M, OF, Jr., Houston, Texas/Dulles
Jacob Priday, Missouri, DH, Sr., Sikeston, Mo./Sikeston
Jordy Mercer, Oklahoma State, UTL, Jr., Taloga, Okla./Taloga
Aaron Crow, Missouri, SP, Jr., Wakarusa, Kan./Washburn Rural
Johnny Dorn, Nebraska, SP, Sr., Grand Island, Neb./Grand Island
Andrew Oliver, Oklahoma State, SP, So., Vermilion, Ohio/Vermilion
Travis Starling, Texas A&M, RP, So., Yoakum, Texas/Yoakum
ALL-BIG 12 SECOND TEAM
Name, School, Pos., Cl., Hometown/Previous School
Rebel Ridling, Oklahoma State, 1B, Sr., Sentinel, Okla./Midland JC
Thomas Belza, Oklahoma State, 2B, Fr., Loveland, Ohio/Archbishop Moeller
Jordy Mercer, Oklahoma State, SS, Jr., Taloga, Okla./Taloga
Matt Hague, Oklahoma State, 3B, Sr., Kent, Wash./Washington
Trevor Coleman, Missouri*, C, So., Dripping Springs, Texas/Dripping Springs
Luis Flores, Oklahoma State*, C, Jr., Del Rio, Texas/Houston
Aljay Davis, Oklahoma, OF, Sr., Lakewood, Calif./NE Oklahoma A&M
Jordan Danks, Texas, OF, Jr., Round Rock, Texas/Round Rock
Roger Kieschnick, Texas Tech, OF, Jr., Rockwall, Texas/Rockwall
Darby Brown, Texas A&M, DH, Sr., Lubbock, Texas/Cooper
Brian Ruggiano, Texas A&M, UTL, Jr., Austin, Texas/Temple College
Thad Weber, Nebraska, SP, Sr., Friend, Neb./Hutchinson CC
Tyler Lyons, Oklahoma State, SP, So., Lubbock, Texas/Frenship HS
Chance Ruffin, Texas, SP, Fr., Austin, Texas/Lake Travis
Daniel Edwards, Kansas State, RP, Sr., Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood
*A tie in voting resulted in two second-team catchers.
Honorable Mention -- Baylor: Shaver Hansen, 3B; Shawn Tolleson, SP; Beamer Weems, SS Kansas: Buck Afenir, C; John Allman, OF; Erik Morrison, SS; Robby Price, 2B; Ryne Price, OF; Paul Smyth, RP Kansas State: Brad Hutt, SP Missouri: Greg Folgia, 2B; Kyle Gibson, SP; Ryan Lollis, OF Nebraska: Craig Corriston, 1B; Dan Jennings, RP; Bryce Nimmo, OF Oklahoma: Mike Gosse, UTL; Jamie Johnson, OF Oklahoma State: Jordy Mercer, RP, Donnie Webb, OF Texas: Brandon Belt, 1B; Preston Clark, UTL; Cole Green, RP; David Hernandez, SS; Russell Moldenhauer, OF; Cameron Rupp, C; Kyle Russell, OF; Michael Torres, DH Texas A&M: Clayton Ehlert, SP; Barret Loux, SP; Brooks Raley, SP; Blake Stouffer, 2B; Kyle Thebeau, RP Texas Tech: Willie Rueda, 2B