'Jacks Wraps Up Fall Season
Nov. 22, 2007
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - After completing an improbable season in only its second season back, the SFA baseball team took time to honor its 2007 squad on Sunday and can now look forward to 2008 with the completion of fall workouts.
Approximately 150 people attended the banquet held at Banita Creek Hall in Nacogdoches on Sunday, Nov. 11, where head coach Donnie Watson was there to hand out awards for the 2007 season that saw the `Jacks go 31-28 and make it all the way to the third round of the SLC Tournament.
Steven Hill was named team MVP and Hitter of the Year after his record-setting 2007 campaign. Hill became the first SFA baseball player to ever earn All-America status, doing so with selections to the Louisiville Slugger First Team and the ABCA/Rawlings Second Team. He was subsequently drafted in the 13th round by the St. Louis Cardinals and left SFA holding nearly every offensive record at the school.
Richard Folmer was named the team's Pitcher of the Year after picking up a team-best four saves and posting an 0.45 ERA in his final 13 appearances of the season. Zach Gardner took home the award for Defensive Player of the Year and the team's academic award went to pitcher Erich Lehmann.
Watson also handed out the Mr. Clutch award to last year's third baseman, Chris Smith. Watson said that it was Smith coming through with numerous big hits and served as the "glue" for the lineup and the team in 2007.
The `Jacks were also celebrating the conclusion of the fall season as the team finished up with its intrasquad World Series last week as well with the Purple squad sweeping the Gray, 3-0. Leaving the banquet on the "Best of the Best" list were pitchers Erik Gregersen, Vincent Wade, Jared West and Travis Harrelson along with infielder Gabriel Garcia-Serrano. Matt Whatley, a transfer catcher from Arkansas-Monticello, was named the Fall MVP for his efforts.
The `Jacks have been prepping for the upcoming season, hoping to build upon an already laid foundation of success. SFA will return a number of players including all-conference selections Noel Trevino, Erich Lehmann and Kevin Crabtree.
Trevino is a player that Watson feels can contend for SLC Player of the Year honors after hitting nine home runs and driving in 41 in 2007, while Crabtree will be counted on to continue to improve after really taking off in the second half of last season, while Lehmann will be asked to anchor the `Jacks pitching staff after going 17-5 in his first two years at SFA.
Watson will also be welcoming several newcomers to the fray, including Whatley and projected starting outfielder Kai Kirby. Kirby makes his way to Nacogdoches after earning All-Jayhawk Conference honors at Seward County Community College last season. Other transfers include pitcher Jonathan Gutierrez and infielder Jeffrey Kello.
Watson also has several freshmen that he is high on including Luke Baker and right-handed pitcher Jeffrey Tamez who each were named to the Super Frosh group by Watson for the fall. Twin pitchers Jared and Jason West could also be looked at to provide depth in the middle innings and are projected to excel in the coming seasons.
Overall SFA is facing the same difficulty that many programs are facing around the country as the NCAA moved back the start date of the season, forcing teams to schedule their games in a tighter time frame. Watson hesitates to speculate on a concrete rotation now, but knows that right-handers Lehmann, Gregersen, Jared Schrom and Kevin Thomas along with left-hander Heath Konesheck will all see significant time.
The `Jacks will have to fill the void left in the lineup by not only Steven Hill, but also Chris Smith and Jared Pitts - a group that combined to hit 40 home runs with 165 RBI in the middle of the order for SFA in 2007. Watson knows that the `Jacks will have to do that with a combination of players stepping in and playing at a high level and returning players continuing to improve with age; however, SFA will be able to, at times, insert four to five left-handed bats into the lineup including Kai Kirby, Justin Long, Adam Bosley, and Matt Whatley.
Keep checking in with www.sfajacks.com for the release of the upcoming 2008 Lumberjack Baseball schedule.