CANYON – Tarleton Baseball had 12 players honored with 15 awards at the annual Lone Star Conference award banquet Wednesday night. The 15 LSC awards is the most in a single season in program history, topping the previous high of 13 by the 2003 Texans.”This is a great group of young men,” said head coach Bryan Conger. “They have put in the time and effort to push themselves and improve. They are very deserving of all the success and accolades coming their way.”
Nathan Hickey highlighted the evening by becoming the third pitcher in program history to be named the Lone Star Conference Pitcher of the Year. The senior right-hander from Granbury led the LSC in wins (9), complete games (3), shutouts (2), and strikeouts (85) this season while boasting a 3.04 ERA for Tarleton. Hickey was also named the LSC Preseason Pitcher of the Year before the season began in February. He joins Paul Darnell (1999) and Joel Robinson (2003) as the only Texan hurlers to claim the league’s top pitching honor.
In addition to his top honors, Hickey also earned All-LSC First Team recognition and All-LSC Gold Glove honors for the second consecutive season.
Joining Hickey as a first-team honoree were outfielders Blake Adams and Francisco Rodriguez and pitchers Eddie Avila and Conner Fletcher.
Adams had arguably one of the greatest offensive seasons in program history as the senior from Longview hit .379 with 67 runs scored, 12 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, and 62 RBI – all from the leadoff spot in the Tarleton lineup. He leads the league in runs scored, home runs, slugging percentage (.734), and hit by pitches (24) while also ranking among the top three in the LSC in batting average, hits, and RBI. This is the second straight season that Adams has been a first-team selection.
With Hickey and Adams repeating as first-team All-LSC selections, it marks the first time since 2000 that Tarleton teammates were named to the league’s highest postseason team since Ben Sartor and Matt Cooper earned back-to-back, first-team honors in 1999 and 2000.
Rodriguez, Fletcher, and Avila – who all transferred in together from Vernon Community College two years ago and were second-team honorees last season – rounded out the first-team acclaim for Tarleton Wednesday.
Rodriguez led the team with a .386 batting average while scoring 45 runs and driving in 49 to go along with 16 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs. The senior from Venezuela was an NCBWA Region Hitter of the Week and National Hitter of the Week after a record-setting offensive weekend against Cameron in March.
Fletcher was huge for the Texans by stabilizing the starting rotation when Lone Star Conference play began. After spending a year-and-half as a do-it-all pitcher in the bullpen and the occasional spot starts, Fletcher stepped into the starting rotation when league play started and never looked back. He finished the season 7-1 with a 3.62 ERA and 65 strikeouts. His seven-inning, 12-strikeout performance of No. 6 West Texas A&M earned him NCBWA Regional Pitcher of the Week last month.
Avila blossomed into one of the nation’s top closers in 2018 and held the national lead in saves for multiple weeks. He finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in the nation and No. 1 in the Lone Star Conference with 13 saves. His save against No. 6 West Texas A&M to close out Fletcher’s big win earned Avila the school’s all-time record for saves in a career. He struck out 37 this season in 22.2 innings of work out of the bullpen.
Tarleton also racked up a handful of second-team honorees – Evan Pontley (SP), Jake Hasbrouck (DH), Ruben Rodriguez (2B), Elvin Alamo (SS), and Jared McCarver (RF).
Hasbrouck rounds out a three-year Tarleton career with his third straight All-LSC second-team selection after hitting .305 with nine home runs and 29 RBI. Pontley was a vital part of Tarleton’s starting rotation, matching Hickey with 13 starts for Tarleton this season. He has a 3.50 ERA with eight victories and 75 strikeouts.
Ruben, Alamo and McCarver made big impressions in their first years at Tarleton. Ruben hit .336 and started 46 games at second base. He drove in 32 RBI and scored 40 runs, while McCarver delivered a big bat in the middle of the Texan lineup with nine home runs and 45 RBI on a .298 batting average in 47 starts.
Alamo bounced back from an early-season injury to enjoy a stellar junior campaign, in which he hit .319 with 28 runs scored. As a catalyst for the Texan offense and a premier defender in the league, Tarleton went 24-7 down the stretch when Alamo returned to the starting lineup – which was the highest winning percentage (.774) in the South Central region over that span. Alamo joined Hickey on the LSC Gold Glove team as the shortstop from Puerto Rico had a .946 fielding percentage at shortstop with 44 putouts and 97 assists.
Rounding out the honors were Tyler Fowler with an honorable mention All-LSC nod and Dylan Lemons, who was recognized for his efforts in the classroom as an academic All-LSC selection. Fowler appeared in 43 games and started 37 in his debut season at Tarleton. The Cleburne native hit .339 with 26 runs scored and 14 RBI. Lemons had six home runs and 33 RBI on the field en route to his academic recognition.
Tarleton is 33-15 this season and finished second in the Lone Star Conference standings. The Texans earned a first-round bye in the Lone Star Conference Tournament and will face the winner of Texas A&M-Kingsville and UT Permian Basin Friday at 3 p.m. in Canyon.