SFA to Face UTSA in First Round of SLC Tournament
May 22, 2007
NATCHITOCHES, La. - A string of firsts happened after the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks defeated the Sam Houston State Bearkats, 12-9, Saturday. The win not only gave SFA its first 30-win season since becoming a Division I institution in 1987, but also gave the Lumberjacks their first bid to the Southland Conference tournament in school history. SFA ended the season with a 17-13 conference mark for the sixth spot in the tournament. As the No. 6 seed, the Lumberjacks will play the regular season champion Texas-San Antonio in the first round of the tournament.
The tournament, in its 20th season of play, will be held at Brown-Stroud Field on the campus of Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La. Game 1 between SFA and UTSA is scheduled for an 11 a.m. start Wednesday, May 23. No. 2 Lamar will face No. 5 McNeese State at 3 p.m., with No. 3 Texas State battling No. 4 Sam Houston State at 7 p.m.
About No. 1 Texas-San Antonio: After playing one non-conference game at the Al Ogletre Classic hosted by Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas and the regular season conference series, the Lumberjacks and Roadrunners have a split 2-2 record against each other this season. In the last two seasons, SFA is 2-5 against Texas-San Antonio.The Roadrunners finished the year with a 33-23 overall record and a 24-6 conference mark to win their first ever SLC crown.
About No. 2 Lamar: The Cardinals ended the conference slate with a 20-10 record, tying with Texas State. But since Lamar held the tiebreaker from the teams' series early in the season, the Cardinals ended up with the No. 2 seed. Lamar finished with a 33-23 overall record. The Cardinals took two-of-three from the Lumberjacks in Nacogdoches.
About No. 3 Texas State: The Bobcats ended the regular season second in the west division with a 35-21 overall mark and a 20-10 SLC record. The Lumberjacks were run-ruled by Texas State in the first game of the series in San Marcos and lost the second game before shutting down the Bobcat offense in a seven-inning, 11-0 win.
About No. 4 Sam Houston State: SFA is coming off a series win against the Bearkats for the second-straight season. The Lumberjacks won the first game, 10-5, before dropping a 7-6, 10-inning loss the next day. SFA finished the weekend and regular season with a 12-9 win over Sam Houston State. The Bearkats ended the year just one game ahead of the Lumberjacks with an 18-12 conference mark and a 34-22 overall record. In two seasons, SFA is 5-1 against the Bearkats.
About No. 5 McNeese State: The Cowboys are the only team in the tournament who ended the season with an overall winning percentage below .500. Although they have a 21-32 overall mark, the Cowboys ended with an SLC mark of 17-12. McNeese State is also the only team the Lumberjacks did not face during the regular season due to the conference relalignment.
The Coaches: SFA's Donnie Watson is in his second season at the helm of the Lumberjack baseball program. In his time with the 'Jacks, Watson has put together a 45-65 (.409) overall record and an SLC mark of 24-35 (.406). UTSA's Sherman Corbett was named the SLC's Clay Gould Coach of the Year. Jim Gilligan is the head coach of the Lamar Cardinals while Ty Harrington is at the helm of Texas State. Sam Houston's Mark Johnson is in his first year as head coach of the Bearkats while McNeese State's Chris Fackler was named interim head coach earlier this season.
SLC Hitter, Player of the Year: Just one year after being named to the Southland Conference's third-team, Steven Hill was named the Southland Conference Hitter and Player of the Year Monday morning after being among the top 10 in almost every offensive statistical category. Hill, a senior from Houston, led the conference in hitting with 24 home runs, 73 RBI, 69 runs scored, 45 walks and 179 total bases. His .390 batting average was fifth in the league while his .840 slugging percentage is tops and his .493 on-base percentage ranks second.
All-SLC: First baseman Steven Hill was also a first-team All-SLC pick. He was joined on the all-conference list by teammates Jared Pitts, Erich Lehmann and Lance Luetge. Pitts, a junior transfer from Angelina College, finished the year with a .308 batting average and 11 home runs. Lehmann, a sophomore from Fort Worth, Texas, currently broke SFA's career wins (16) -- he's collected eight in each of his two seasons at SFA -- and season strikeouts record (77). Industry, Texas, native Luetge finished the season with a 7-4 record and 3.75 ERA. He collected 51 strikeouts on the year. Second baseman Noel Trevino, catcher Kevin Croft and outfielder Zach Gardner received an honorable mention.
Back-to-Back Home Runs: Kevin Croft, the nine-hole hitter, and lead-off man Zach Gardner became the first Lumberjacks to hit back-to-back home runs since Steven Hill and former player Chase Sadler did so in Feb. 2006. Croft's home run was his 11th of the year and Gardner's was his second.
A Sense of Relief: Sophomore Richard Folmer pitched 5.1 innings of relief work last week, making an appearance in each of the Lumberjacks' four games. First, at Oklahoma, he pitched one inning, giving up two hits and striking out two. Then, in a 2.2 inning outing, he struck out a season-high five Bearkats while giving up only one hit. He followed with a one inning appearance Friday against Sam Houston State in which he allowed two runs off four hits while striking out one and walking one. Folmer capped the weekend coming into Saturday's game with the tying run at the plate. He struck out Sam Houston's Bobby Verbick before getting the next batter to fly out to left field to earn his fourth save of the year and give SFA the 12-9 win to advance to the Southland Conference tournament.
First No. 1: Sunday's 12-9 victory over the Bearkats gave SFA its 30th win of the season. It is the Lumberjacks' first 30-win season as a Division I institution.
First No. 2: Sunday's win also gave SFA a league record of 17-13, good enough for the sixth and final spot in the Southland Conference tournament. The tournament berth is a first in school history.
Watch Lists: Lumberjack first baseman Steven Hill has been named to two watch lists for national player of the year awards. He was named to the Dick Howser Trophy list and just last week, he was named to the "Wallace Watch" for the Brooks Wallace Award. Hill and Sam Houston State's Bobby Verbick are the only two Southland Conference players on the Howser watch list while Lamar's Michael Ambort joins the duo on the Wallace Watch.
Nationally Ranked: The Lumberjacks have left their mark on the national rankings in three different categories this season. Steven Hill is making a steady climb through the top five home run hitters. Currently, he is ranked second in the nation with 24, three behind Texas' Kyle Russel who is leading with 27. Hill is also ranked in the top 10 for home runs per game. Hill's numbers have also helped the team place 10th for home runs per game. Hill is also ranked among the top 10 for RBI per game and in the top 15 in slugging percentage.