The erratic play offered by Florida Atlantic throughout the season makes it easy to be pessimistic about the Owls' chances in the Sun Belt Baseball Tournament
. That's especially true if you haven't been to their games and are simply looking at their stats.
But there is reason for optomism. Take Barry Rooks, for example. When he takes the mound on Wednesday to start FAU's tournament opener against Middle Tennessee, he'll be dragging a 5.00 ERA with him. But that number can be deceiving. Much of that number can be attributed to a couple of bad starts, one of which caused coach John McCormack to shut him down for almost a month with an elbow injury.
But Rooks' best start of the season came against MTSU, when he allowed three runs - two earned - in 7 2/3 innings. He's also pitched well out of the pen in recent weeks. When healthy, Rooks has been the Owls best pitcher this season and he has proven he can handle the Blue Raiders strong line-up.
Offensively, Jeremy Griffiths appears to be coming out of his season-long slump. David Wilson, who's been solid all season, is swinging his hottest bat, and Tom Hatcher (photo) also seems to be finding a groove.
That's not to say I think FAU will win the tournament. They've been far too inconsistent to make that prediction. But I do think the Owls will win at least one game. Aside from MTSU and Troy, there is no team I would fear more in a single-game showdown than the Owls.Block out:
McCormack was holding out hope that second baseman William Block would have his academic issues solved in time to join the Owls for the tournament, but that didn't happen. When the Owls turned in their roster earlier today, Ryan Garton's name was present. Block's wasn't.Finding his stroke:
Looks like McCormack made a pretty good choice when selecting Jeremy Griffiths as the Owls' entrant in the SBC home run hitting contest, held Tuesday night. After hitting three of his five home runs on the season in the final series, Griffiths turned around and hit six bombs in the first round. He didn't fare as well in the second round, when participants were only given five outs. An individual winner wasn't crowned. The West easily defeated Griffith's East squad 45-29 in the team competition.Award shutout:
The SBC released its All-Conference teams tonight and there wasn't an Owl on the first or second team. I guess that's what happens when you struggle to reach the tournament. To be fair, there really aren't any Owls whose numbers really stand out. But did anyone who was at the final series really think four FIU players should make the first team?
Here are the awards:2009 All-Sun Belt Conference Baseball First Team
SP - Kenneth Roberts Middle Tennessee; Matt Hightower WKU
RP - Coty Woods, Middle Tennessee
C - David Doss, South Alabama
1B - Mike Martinez, FIU
2B - Ryan Mollica, FIU
SS - Ben Soignier, ULM
3B - Wade Gaynor, WKU
OF - Tyler Townsend, FIU; Bryce Brentz, Middle Tennessee; Chad Cregar, WKU
DH - Tim Jobe, FIU
U - Michael Precise, Troy2009 All-Sun Belt Conference Baseball Second Team
SP - Tom Ebert, FIU; Matt Ridings, WKU
RP - Chris Sorce, Troy
C - Drew Robertson, Middle Tennessee
1B - Ryan Ditthardt, Troy
2B - Boomer Blanchard, ULM
SS - Terrence Dayleg, WKU
3B - Rawley Bishop, Middle Tennessee
OF - Jon Prevost, ULM; Nathan Hines, Middle Tennessee; Adam Heisler, South Alabama
DH - Scott Hawkins, Louisiana-Lafayette
U - Murray Watts, Arkansas State
Player of the Year - Bryce Brentz, Middle Tennessee
Pitcher of the Year - Matt Hightower, WKU
Freshman of the Year - Tyler Ray, Troy
Newcomer of the Year - Boomer Blanchard. ULM
Coach of the Year - Chris Finwood, WKU
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