Eagles' Koeneman named SAC Player of the Year; Thigpen named All-SAC
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Carson-Newman first baseman Kyle Koeneman hit five game-winning home runs during his senior season and has been named the 2012 South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year on Wednesday, headlining the league's award winners.
Joining Koeneman on the All-SAC teams is pitcher Robby Thigpen, who earned a second team starting pitcher spot.
Koeneman anchored the Eagles' lineup throughout 2012 and has been clutch game in, game out.
After finding out he had been granted a fifth-year of eligibility in C-N's fourth game of the season, Koeneman entered the Eagles' lineup mid-game, blasting the game-winning home run and picking up the save as C-N beat nationally ranked Lander 4-2 in February. He followed with a game-winning home run against North Georgia and Lenoir-Rhyne, and a solo home run in the ninth in a SAC win against Mars Hill to force extra innings.
Koeneman piled up home runs and impressive numbers throughout the rest of the season.
The Seymour, Tenn. native led the conference with an on-base percentage of .544 and a slugging percentage of .893. He also is second in the league and country in home runs with 18 and sixth in doubles with 16. Teams eventually quit pitching to Koeneman as he racked up 44 walks on the year, second most in the SAC.
Koeneman also made 11 appearances on the mound for the Eagles, going 3-1 with three saves.
Behind Koeneman's two home runs in a sweep of a doubleheader against Newberry, Carson-Newman went 24-23 during the regular season and earned the No. 5 seed in the 2012 Food Lion SAC Baseball Championship. The Eagles face Catawba on Thursday at 3:45 p.m. in Forest City, N.C.
Thigpen kept the Eagles in the hunt for a spot in the top half of the SAC standings and a SAC Tournament berth. The senior went 5-2 with a 4.57 ERA. He struck out 47 batters in 63.0 innings pitched and issued only 11 walks.
Until two weeks ago, the senior had the Eagles only two complete games on the season. He shut down Augusta State (Ga.) in a 3-0 win to open the season. He also held Brevard to three late earned runs in a complete-game win in early March in SAC play. He has missed the last month of the season due to injury.
Thigpen also earned a Gold Glove Award as a pitcher. He played the position error-free in 63.0 innings pitched this season.
The No. 1 starters from the conference's top two teams during the 2012 season – Tusculum and Catawba -- were rewarded by being named co-SAC Pitchers of the Year. Catawba's JJ Jankowski, who leads the nation in strikeouts with 114, and Tusculum's Craig Goodman, who leads the SAC with a 1.93 ERA, earned the accolades after going a combined 18-1 in the regular season.
Goodman allowed just 57 hits in 70 innings en route to compiling a 9-0 record during the regular season, while Jankowski went 9-1 – largely due to a 5.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In addition to Koeneman, the All-SAC First Team infield was made up of Lincoln Memorial second baseman Andrew Rodriguez, LMU shortstop Joe Horsley and Tusculum third baseman Cade Stallings.
Stallings hit 10 home runs during the regular season and finished fourth in the SAC with 53 RBI, Rodriguez finished third in the league with a .414 batting average, and Horsley was third in the conference with 20 stolen bases.
The All-SAC First Team features a powerful outfield of Wingate's Casey Allison, Mars Hill's Joey Belviso and Catawba's Ethan Satterfield. Allison currently leads the nation with 20 home runs and is second with 63 RBI, Belviso is second in the nation with 76 hits and seventh in the SAC with 51 RBI, and Satterfield is second in the league with a .422 batting average.
Anderson catcher Brett Scarberry made the First Team after hitting .368 during the regular season, while first-team designated hitter Garrett Furr has driven home 47 runs for Catawba.
The All-SAC First Team was rounded out by Newberry starting pitcher Josh McElwee, who boasts the SAC's second-best ERA at 3.03 at second-highest strikeout total at 88, and reliever John-Austin Shepard, who saved a league-leading seven games for Tusculum during the regular season.
The All-Conference Second Team was led by Brevard second baseman Chad Funkhouser, who was also named the SAC Freshman of the Year. Funkhouser closed the regular season with a .346 batting average and a .425 OBP for the Tornados.
Joining Funkhouser on the All-SAC Second Team infield were Tusculum catcher Cody Coffman, Mars Hill first baseman Coty Pate, Catawba shortstop Brett Underwood and Wingate third baseman Jacob Karr.
Brevard's Champ Stuart, Tusculum's Alexi Colon and Wingate's Dodson McPherson comprised the All-Conference Second Team outfield, while Tusculum's Carlos Santana was named the team's DH.
Starters Nick Lomascolo of Catawba, Taylor Rakes of Tusculum and Robby Thigpen of Carson-Newman joined Catawba reliever Nate King on the Second Team pitching staff.
Finally, after leading his team to a SAC regular-season championship and record 24 conference victories, Tusculum's Doug Jones was named the league's Coach of the Year.
The Pioneers, ranked third in this week's NCBWA national poll, are the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Food Lion SAC Baseball Championship.
SAC Player of the Year: Kyle Koeneman, C-N
Co-SAC Pitcher of the Year: Craig Goodman, TC
Co-SAC Pitcher of the Year: JJ Jankowski, CAT
SAC Freshman of the Year: Chad Funkhouser, BC
SAC Coach of the Year: Doug Jones, TC
2012 All-SAC Team
C - Brett Scarberry, AU
1B - Kyle Koeneman, C-N
2B - Andre Rodriguez, LMU
SS - Joe Horsley, LMU
3B - Cade Stallings, TC
OF - Casey Allison, WU
OF - Joey Belviso, MHC
OF - Ethan Satterfield, CAT
DH - Garrett Furr, CAT
SP - Craig Goodman, TC
SP - JJ Jankowski, CAT
SP - Josh McElwee, NEW
RP - John-Austin Shepard, TC
C - Cody Coffman, TC
1B - Coty Pate, MHC
2B - Chad Funkhouser, BC
SS - Brett Underwood, CAT
3B - Jacob Karr, WU
OF - Champ Stuart, BC
OF - Alexi Colon, TC
OF - Dodson McPherson, WU
DH - Carlos Santana, TC
SP - Nick Lomascolo, CAT
SP - Taylor Rakes, TC
SP - Robby Thigpen, C-N
RP - Nate King, CAT
2012 SAC Gold Glove Team
C - Christian Christopoulos, BC
C - Greg Lawson, CAT
1B - Tarron Robinson, BC
2B - Julio Zubillaga, CAT
SS - Brett Underwood, CAT
3B - Blake May, AU
OF - Ryan Bostian, CAT
OF - Kevin Rufus, NEW
OF - Cody Baker, LMU
OF - Aaron Guinn, TC
P - Robby Thigpen, C-N