Razorbacks' Shaddy, Kjerstad lead SEC honors

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy (20) celebrates with center fielder Dominic Fletcher after hitting a 3-run home run Friday, May 11, 2018, during the first inning against Texas A&M at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy (20) celebrates with center fielder Dominic Fletcher after hitting a 3-run home run Friday, May 11, 2018, during the first inning against Texas A&M at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Carson Shaddy played his senior season with a burning desire to prove major league teams made a mistake by not drafting him last summer. Heston Kjerstad played his freshman year to have fun and maximize his skills, with no personal awards on his wish list.

Shaddy and Kjerstad wound up as the most decorated players in All-SEC voting for the No. 7 Arkansas Razorbacks, who tied for the SEC West crown and earned a bye into Wednesday's double-elimination round of the SEC Tournament.

Kjerstad was voted SEC Freshman of the Year by league coaches and Shaddy was named first-team All-SEC at second base, the league office announced Monday.

"I don't play the game for awards or trophies or plaques," Kjerstad said. "I just try to be the best baseball player I can be, and at the end of the year, if it winds up that I win an award, that's great."

Shaddy wasn't happy about going undrafted and finished as the Hogs' leading hitter with a .354 batting average for the regular season.

"I'm just really excited to get that honor to be first-team All-SEC," Shaddy said. "It's awesome.

"It was just a bounce-back year. I didn't have a great year last year. ... I put my nose to the grindstone and was working hard and trying to prove some people wrong was what the season was all about."

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville had seven players earn spots among the league's postseason awards, the most in his 16 seasons, according to Coach Dave Van Horn.

Kjerstad, the starting left fielder, joined third baseman Casey Martin on the All-Freshman team voted on by coaches. Junior catcher Grant Koch and junior center fielder Dominic Fletcher were named to the SEC All-Defensive team.

Arkansas led all SEC schools in second-team selections, with pitcher Blaine Knight, outfielder Eric Cole, Kjerstad and Martin making that team.

"I'm really proud of all these guys," Van Horn said. "It's more than we've ever had. There's a lot of good players in the league this year. That's why the league was so tough."

League champion and No. 3 Florida dominated the individual awards, with third baseman Jonathan India being voted SEC Player of the Year, Brady Singer being selected as Pitcher of the Year and Kevin Sullivan winning SEC Coach of the Year.

Georgia's Keegan McGovern and Tennessee's Nico Mascia were named Co-Scholar Athletes of the Year.

Kjerstad, from Amarillo, Texas, had one of the best freshman seasons in Arkansas baseball history. He led all SEC freshmen with a .348 batting average, 11 home runs, 119 total bases, 49 runs scored and 72 hits. He ranks second among league freshmen with 46 RBI and sixth overall in SEC batting average.

Shaddy had a tremendous senior season that opened with the Fayetteville native batting mostly in the eight and nine spots in the order before moving up. Shaddy ranks fourth in the SEC with a .354 batting average, a .646 slugging percentage and a .451 on-base percentage, and tied for 17th with 10 home runs.

Martin, a Lonoke graduate who had seven fewer starts then Kjerstad, had a .344 average with 10 home runs and 38 RBI.

"It's honestly something you never see much is two freshmen being able to come into a great program that has the reputation like it does at Arkansas and ... be able to do what we did in the best baseball conference in the United States," Kjerstad said. "It's just something that's great. We're going to look back on it later after it soaks in and realize what we did and how good of a season it was for the both of us."

Knight (9-0) leads the SEC in winning percentage and ranks fifth with a 2.88 earned run average. The junior from Bryant, who has 82 strikeouts and 18 walks in 81 1/3 innings, said he was pleased he returned for his junior year.

2018 SEC Baseball Awards

Player of the Year: Jonathan India, Florida

Pitcher of the Year: Brady Singer, Florida

Freshman of the Year: Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas

Coach of the Year: Kevin O’Sullivan, Florida

Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Keegan McGovern, Georgia

Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Nico Mascia, Tennessee

First-Team All-SEC

C: JJ Schwarz, Florida

1B: Kole Cottam, Kentucky

2B: Carson Shaddy, Arkansas

3B: Jonathan India, Florida

SS: Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M

OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State

OF: Ryan Olenek, Ole Miss

OF: Keegan McGovern, Georgia

DH/UT: Luke Heyer, Kentucky

SP: Brady Singer, Florida

SP: Casey Mize, Auburn

RP: Michael Byrne, Florida

Second-Team All-SEC Team

C: Nick Fortes, Ole Miss

1B: Adam Sasser, Georgia

2B: Michael Helman, Texas A&M

3B: Casey Martin, Arkansas

SS: Will Holland, Auburn

OF: Eric Cole, Arkansas

OF: Wil Dalton, Florida

OF: Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas

DH/UT: Michael Curry, Georgia

SP: Blaine Knight, Arkansas

SP: Jackson Kowar, Florida

RP: Parker Caracci, Ole Miss

Freshman All-SEC Team

C: Mason Meadows, Georgia

1B: Tanner Allen, Mississippi State

2B: Anthony Servideo, Ole Miss

3B: Casey Martin, Arkansas

OF: Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas

OF: Daniel Cabrera, LSU

OF: Steven Williams, Auburn

DH/UT: Edouard Julien, Auburn

SP: Ma’Khail Hilliard, LSU

SP: Tanner Burns, Auburn

RP: Cody Greenhill, Auburn

SEC All-Defensive Team

C: Grant Koch, Arkansas

1B: Cole Zabowski, Ole Miss

2B: Luke Jarvis, Auburn

3B: Jonathan India, Florida

SS: Connor Kaiser, Vanderbilt

OF: Zach Watson, LSU

OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State

OF: Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas

P: Will Neely, Tennessee

He was selected behind SEC ERA leader Singer (10-1, 2.25) and Auburn's Casey Mize (9-4, 2.94), who has 133 strikeouts and 10 walks in 95 innings.

"In this league, you make first or second team that's pretty good, I have to say, just because of how loaded this league is and the talent that's in it," Knight said.

Knight beat Singer, Mize and Ole Miss left-hander Ryan Rolison, all projected first-round draft picks, in consecutive head-to-head meetings.

"They only take two pitchers on the first team," Van Horn said. "If they had taken three, Blaine would have been right there. You can't really complain about the two that made first team."

Van Horn said Cole's numbers -- a .333 batting average, 12 home runs, 43 RBI, 4 stolen bases and a perfect fielding percentage -- would stack up with any outfielder in the SEC.

Ryan Olenek of Ole Miss, Jake Mangum of Mississippi State and Keegan McGovern of Georgia were the first-team selections in the outfield.

"It's awesome," Cole said. "Coach Van Horn says it's such a big deal, and seeing who else these past three years have been honored, being in the same conversation with them, it's a really cool thing to see my name there."

Koch has a .998 fielding percentage, with one error in 419 chances, and a .269 batting average with 7 home runs and 31 RBI. Fletcher has three outfield assists and made several impressive catches this season to go along with a .291 average, 7 home runs and 32 RBI.

Sports on 05/22/2018


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