FRISCO, Texas – Sam Houston State senior catcher Anthony Azar and Lamar junior shortstop Sam Bumpers are among the 11 returning all-conference players who are on the 2014 preseason all-conference teams, which were announced by the league on Wednesday.
A two-time first-team all-conference selection, Azar was one of Sam Houston State's most consistent offensive players last season with a .303 batting average and a .491 slugging percentage, which ranked fourth in the conference. Azar, who paced one of the conference's most efficient offenses, recorded a team-high 21 doubles and 47 runs batted in, to go along with six home runs, one triple and 38 runs scored. Azar is the lone first-team member from a season ago returning to a Southland diamond.
Bumpers, last season's newcomer of the year and second-team all-conference selection, highlights the Cardinals on the all-conference teams. The junior shortstop led the Cardinals in doubles (19) and total bases (115), ranked second in hits (eight), slugging percentage (.487), home runs (four) and triples (two) and third in batting average (.339), RBI (40) and runs score (48) last season.
Sam Houston State, the two-time defending regular-season champion, leads all teams with six all-conference selections. Completing the first-team picks for Sam Houston is senior outfielder Luke Plucheck. Plucheck earned second-team all-conference honors last season after leading the Bearkats in home runs (nine), triples (four), runs scored (42), slugging percentage (.512) and total bases (110). Junior outfielder Colt Atwood, junior second baseman Ryan Farney, junior third baseman Carter Burgess and sophomore shortstop Corey Toups were named second-team all-conference to complete the Bearkats' all-conference selections.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi placed four players on the preseason all-conference teams with senior second baseman Cody Stephens and junior pitcher Trevor Belicek earning first-team honors. Stephens is the top-returner in many offensive categories for the Islanders including batting average (.313), RBI (28), home runs (two), runs scored (48), hits (70), triples (two), total bases (84) and stolen bases (10). Belicek, the team leader in wins last season, posted a 9-2 record with a 3.12 ERA. Belicek tossed one complete game last season and took part in a combined shutout for the Islanders. Picking up second-team honors for A&M-Corpus Christi are junior outfielder Jordan Lee and junior pitcher Jacob Dorris.
McNeese State and Southeastern Louisiana each had three players earned preseason all-conference honors, while Central Arkansas, Lamar and Oral Roberts all had two selections apiece. Nicholls and Stephen F. Austin had one each.
Other returning all-conference selections named to the first team are McNeese State senior outfielder Jackson Gooch and senior first baseman Chayse Marion, Southeastern Louisiana senior third baseman Jesse Buratt, Stephen F. Austin senior outfielder Ricardo Sanchez and Oral Roberts senior designated hitter Tyler Boss.
Gooch earned second-team all-conference last season when he posted team highs in batting average (.301), hits (65), doubles (15), home runs (five), RBI (34), total bases (97) and at bats (216). Gooch started in 53 games and played in all 54 for the Cowboys.
Marion was a third-team selection last season and was second on the team in hits (54), doubles (nine), home runs (three) and total bases (74). Marion posted a .289 batting average while starting in 50 games for McNeese.
Buratt is one of Southeastern Louisiana's top returners this season after earning a spot on the third team last year. Buratt recorded a .278 batting average last season with 54 hits, including 12 doubles and a triple, while knocking in 24 runs and scoring 31 times.
Sanchez, a second-team all-conference pick in 2013, is the Lumberjacks top returning hitter with a .358 batting average. Sanchez also returns as the team leading in hits (63), home runs (three), slugging percentage (.455), on-base percentage (.415) and stolen bases (seven).
Boss earned third-team all-conference honors last season after leading the Golden Eagles with a .497 slugging percentage and eight stolen bases. Boss, who was second on the squad with a .295 batting average, recorded 10 doubles, two triples and seven home runs with 32 RBI and 29 runs scored.
A pair of pitchers round out the first team with Central Arkansas senior Bryce Biggerstaff and McNeese State sophomore Bryce Kingsley.
Finishing out the second team are Southeastern Louisiana sophomore first baseman Jameson Fisher and sophomore pitcher Tate Scioneaux, Oral Roberts junior catcher Jose Trevino, Lamar senior outfielder Jude Vidrine and Central Arkansas senior pitcher Conner Gilmore.
Returning players who earned first- and second-team all-conference honors following the 2013 season automatically receive preseason honors. Third-team postseason selections move into vacated positions on the first and second preseason teams. The remaining spots are voted on by the league's head coaches.
2014 Preseason All-Southland Conference Baseball Teams
Pos. Name University Class Hometown
1B Chayse Marion* McNeese State Sr. Red Deer, Alberta
2B Cody Stephens* A&M-Corpus Christi Sr. Concord, Calif.
3B Jesse Buratt* Southeastern La. Sr. Prairieville, La.
SS Sam Bumpers* Lamar Jr. Bourbornnais, Ill.
C Anthony Azar* Sam Houston State Sr. The Woodlands, Texas
OF Luke Plucheck* Sam Houston State Sr. Tomball, Texas
OF Ricardo Sanchez* Stephen F. Austin Sr. Houston, Texas
OF Jackson Gooch* McNeese State Sr. Delta, British Columbia
DH Tyler Boss* Oral Roberts Sr. Spring, Texas
P Trevor Belicek* A&M-Corpus Christi Jr. Uvalde, Texas
P Bryce Biggerstaff Central Arkansas Sr. Sherwood, Ark.
P Bryce Kingsley McNeese State So. Lake Charles, La.
Pos. Name University Class Hometown
1B Jameson Fisher Southeastern La. So. Zachary, La.
2B Ryan Farney Sam Houston State Jr. Houston, Texas
3B Carter Burgess Sam Houston State Jr. Houston, Texas
SS Corey Toups Sam Houston State So. The Woodlands, Texas
C Jose Trevino* Oral Roberts Jr. Corpus Christi, Texas
OF Jude Vidrine Lamar Sr. Nederland, Texas
OF Colt Atwood Sam Houston State Jr. Katy, Texas
OF Jordan Lee A&M-Corpus Christi Jr. Houston, Texas
DH Brandon Jackson Nicholls Sr. Fort Gibson, Okla.
P Tate Scioneaux Southeastern La. So. Reserve, La.
P Conner Gilmore Central Arkansas So. Little Rock, Ark.
P Jacob Dorris A&M-Corpus Christi Jr. Weatherford, Texas
*Returning all-conference selection;
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