Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina landed two players on the 2019 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) / Rawlings NCAA Division I Atlantic All-Region teams released on Wednesday. Redshirt senior outfielder Matthew Koehler garnered a first-team All-Atlantic Region nod while sophomore third baseman Justice Bigbie collected second-team plaudits.
Teams were announced in eight regions nationally as voted on by members of the ABCA and the process is led by the ABCA NCAA Div. I All-America Committee, which is chaired by Toommy Raffo of Arkansas State University. ABCA/Rawlings All-Region First Team selections are nominated for ABCA/Rawlings All-America honors which will be announced on Saturday, June 15.
Koehler adds the all-region honors to a tremendous senior season having already earned first-team All-Southern Conference and a NCCSIA All-State recognition. Koehler paced WCU and the SoCon in seasonal batting average (.361) and slugging percentage (.649), finishing with 74 base hits that included 10 doubles, a SoCon-high tying five triples, and a team-best 13 home runs – fourth-most in the league in 2019.
The 2019 SoCon Baseball Player of the Year and a first-team All-SoCon selection, Bigbie, too, adds the Atlantic All-Region second-team honor to his strong second year in Cullowhee. He recorded a team-best 75 base hits including 11 doubles and 12 homers – two as inside-the-park round-trippers – while ranking third in the SoCon with a .355 batting average.
Tallying the first all-region honors of their respective careers, Koehler and Bigbie were joined by UNCG reliever Chad Sykes (2nd) on the Atlantic All-Region team, while Samford saw pitcher Zach Hester (1st), 1B Sonny DiChiara (1st), and OF Jordan Fucci (2nd) recognized on the Central All-Region Team as others from the Southern Conference honored.
The finalists for the ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Div. I Gold Glove Team will be announced via Twitter on Monday, June 17, and the Gold Glove winners in all divisions will be announced on Wednesday, June 19. In all divisions, ABCA/Rawlings National Pitchers of the Year will be announced on Monday, June 24, followed by ABCA/Rawlings National Players of the Year on Wednesday, June 26.
- This year marks the 28th time since 1977 that WCU had a player on the ABCA Atlantic All-Region squad – and the 13th time that WCU has put multiple players on the honorary squad … Four selections in 2014 are the most in a single year all-time for WCU;
- This year halted a one-year hiatus for WCU receiving All-Atlantic Region selections ... WCU has had an All-Atlantic Region selection in three of the last four years ... the longest consecutive year streak for WCU is 11-straight seasons from 1989 through 1999;
WCU's All-Time, ABCA/Rawlings Atlantic All-Region Selections:
1977 – Keith Ebersole (1st), Jerry Reed (2nd), Wayne Tolleson (2nd)
1978 – Wayne Tolleson (1st), Keith Ebersole (2nd)
1980 – Willie Carpenter (1st)
1986 – Pat Riley (2nd)
1987 – Clint Fairey (1st)
1989 – Clint Fairey (1st)
1990 – Grant Brittain (1st)
1991 – Kevin Bellomo (1st), Phillip Grundy (2nd), Matt Raleigh (2nd)
1992 – Joey Cox (1st), Matt Raleigh (1st), Dan Kyslinger (2nd)
1993 – Phillip Grundy (1st), Jason Beverlin (2nd)
1994 – Jason Beverlin (1st), Mike Manning (2nd), Mike Tidick (2nd)
1995 – Jody Henson (1st)
1996 – Alex Tolbert (2nd)
1997 – Alex Tolbert (1st), Jeremy Bruce (2nd), J.P. Burwell (2nd)
1998 – Martin Barrow (2nd), Mark DiFelice (2nd)
1999 – Steve Harris (2nd), Chris Moore (2nd)
2001 – Donovan Minero (1st)
2003 – Alan Beck (2nd)
2004 – Jared Greenwood (1st)
2005 – Steven Strausbaugh (2nd)
2006 – Steven Strausbaugh (2nd)
2007 – Kenny Smith (2nd)
2012 – Ross Heffley (2nd)
2013 – Aaron Attaway (2nd), Tyler White (2nd)
2014 – Adam Martin (1st), Cody Jones (1st), Jacob Hoyle (2nd), Bradley Strong (2nd)
2016 – Bryson Bowman (1st), Matt Smith (2nd)
2017 – Bryson Bowman (1st)