May 20, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Regular season champion Western Carolina landed a total of seven players on the post-season All-Southern Conference teams as selected by both the league's head coaches and voting media. Senior third baseman Tyler White headlined the group by tallying SoCon Player of the Year accolades from the media, the 15th Catamount all-time to earn top honors from the conference.
White, who was additionally named first-team All-SoCon by both the coaches and media, was joined on the first team by classmate Preston Hatcher as the first team reliever. WCU also placed junior shortstop Aaron Attaway and junior outfielder Julian Ridings on the first team with the tally by both groups mirroring each other.
Sophomore starter Jeremy Null garnered second team honors along with battery mate, Adam Martin, at the second team catcher position. Freshman right-hander Jonathan Waszak completed the honorees, earning SoCon All-Freshman team plaudits.
In addition to the seven individuals, WCU sixth-year head coach Bobby Moranda, who directed the Catamounts to their first regular season title since 2007 and 12th overall, was named the SoCon Coach of the Year by both his peers and the media. Under his tutelage this season, the Catamounts rattled off a school-record 16-straight wins in league play, while also scoring 23 wins - the most in the storied program's history in league action.
Moranda is the fifth WCU head coach to earn the yearly honor all-time. It is the eighth-time in program history that the Catamount skipper has been selected.
All told, WCU and The Citadel shared league-best honors on both the Coaches' and Media All-SoCon squads with six selections apiece. The Catamounts had four, first-team nods on both teams while the Bulldogs put four on the second team. WCU added one on the coaches' All-Freshman team.
Tyler White is the first Catamount to earn SoCon Player of the Year plaudits since Kenny Smith in the 2007 season, WCU's last regular season championship year. A native of Forest City, N.C., White is putting the finishing touches on a stellar senior season. He finished the regular season batting .357 including a team-leading .416 in SoCon play - the second-best average in league. He paced the SoCon with 149 total bases, legging out a league-leading 25 doubles, one shy of WCU's single-season record. A total of 17 of his two-bag hits this season came against conference foes.
This season, White enjoyed a career-long, 11-game hitting streak and reached base safely a career-best, 23-straight games at one stretch. All told, he has reached safely in 26-consecutive SoCon games dating back to March 15. He has recorded base hits in 19 of his last 22 games entering the conference tournament including 10, multi-hit games. He collected SoCon Player of the Week accolades on March 12, batting .524 with three home runs, two doubles and eight RBI in four games including a road win over SEC-foe, Georgia.
Entering the post-season tournament, White ranks fifth in program history in games played (225) and fourth in career games started (217). His 869 career at bats rank him fourth in school history and he stands eighth all-time with 281 career hits. In addition to ranking tied for second with 25 doubles, he rests amidst a four-way tie for fourth-place with 62 career doubles. White also ranks fourth in hit by pitches (38) and is 15th in school history with 151 career RBI.
On the strength of a WCU single-season record tying 14 saves, fourth-year hurler Preston Hatcher broke the 10-year old school career record for saves, finishing the regular season with 24. Hatcher has posted a 6-3 overall record to compliment his league-leading 14 saves, also pacing the SoCon in games finished with 30. Hatcher claimed the career saves record in a series-clinching win over UNCG back on April 27, striking out two in an inning and a third of work. The Atlanta, Ga., native matched Mike Manning's single-season record saves record on May 13, tossing a perfect ninth inning against Wofford in the win that secured at least a share of the SoCon regular season title.
A preseason All-America selection, Hatcher was listed on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Watch List. He enters the SoCon tournament with 128 career strikeouts including 44 this season, the second-best single-season of his career. He additionally earned SoCon Student-Athlete of the Week accolades on April 24, 2013.
Named to both the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List and a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, junior Aaron Attaway can add first team All-SoCon to his list of accomplishments in 2013. The third-year starter leads WCU and the SoCon with 89 base hits this season, chasing the school's single-season record of 102 set by Brent Greer back in 2009. He also paced the league with 64 runs scored. He has established personal career-highs with 15 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs while ranking second on the Catamount squad with 49 RBI.
A Morganton, N.C., product, Attaway became the first Catamount batter to hit for the cycle since the mid-1980's, according to available research, reaching all four bases in the extra inning victory over Furman on April 7. He posted a career-long, 16-game hitting streak that ended in the regular season finale at Appalachian State, while also reaching base safely in 22-consecutive games.
Julian Ridings earned first team honors in the outfield, finishing the year with a team-high .372 batting average among WCU's regulars including a .397 mark against SoCon foes to rank fourth in the league on both ledgers. Among his 70 base hits, the Shelby, N.C., native collected 28 for extra bases including 14 doubles, four triples and a career-best 10 home runs. He ranked fourth on the squad with 46 runs batted in while amassing a team-high .649 slugging percentage. On the base paths, Ridings was a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen bases in the regular season, matching Bradley Strong for the team lead.
Ridings enjoyed a career-long, 11-game hitting streak while reaching base safely in 16-consecutive games this season. At one point in mid-April, he held a season-high .426 batting average.
A year after garnering All-Freshman honors, Jeremy Null was tabbed second team All-SoCon as a starting pitcher this season. The Claremont, N.C., product led WCU with an 8-2 record with his eight victories ranking tied for second in the SoCon. He additionally finished the regular season second with a team-high 104 strikeouts, fanning 26 looking to rank tied for third. Null was one of three WCU pitchers to rank inside the top 10 in earned run average in the SoCon, ranking eighth with a 3.54 ERA (Morgan McKinney ranked fifth, 3.45; Jordan Smith ranked sixth at 3.53).
Null recorded double-digit strikeouts four times during the season including 13 on opening-weekend against Pac-12 foe, Washington State, and a career-high 14 in an eight-inning outing versus Georgia Southern in mid-April. Opponents only hit .236 against Null on the year. He was twice selected as a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and recorded wins in his final six starts of the regular season.
Battling through an injury at mid-season, Adam Martin rallied to finish the year with a .281 collective batting average that included a .369 mark against SoCon foes. Twenty of his 33 RBI on the season came in league play, while 12 (seven doubles, five home runs) of his 19 (nine doubles, seven homers) extra base hits came against conference opponents. During WCU's streak of winning 21 of its final 23 games, Martin collected 12 extra base hits with seven home runs and 29 RBI. He recorded 10 multiple-RBI games including four on a grand slam home run at Appalachian State in the season finale.
Behind the plate, Martin threw out 13 of 38 would-be base stealers with three double-plays. He keyed WCU's efforts against the nation's top base stealing squad, Wofford, by throwing out six runners in the three-game sweep.
Jonathan Waszak pitched in 30 games during his freshman season, the third-most among WCU's relievers and most among the rookie hurlers. He finished the regular season with a 3.94 overall ERA, earning his first collegiate save after tossing four innings with a career-high three strikeouts out of the bullpen in the Catamounts' series-clinching victory over Appalachian State on Friday in Boone. All told, the right-hander finished the season without allowing a run - earned or unearned - in his final five appearances and a combined 6.2 innings pitched.
The Wendell, N.C., native made his collegiate debut in the second game of the season, throwing a third of an inning in the home win over Washington State. He later tallied his longest career outing, tossing five frames of scoreless, three-hit relief in an 11-7 home win over Eastern Kentucky, and made his first career start on April 24 at nationally-ranked, Clemson.
Top-seeded and ranked 29th in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball, Western Carolina (38-18, 23-7 SoCon) opens play in the 2013 SoCon Baseball Championship on Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 pm at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C.
Festivities in Greenville get underway on Tuesday evening with the final edition of the 12-stop "Catamounts Unite Tour." The Upstate South Carolina stop, hosted by the Cullowhee River Club, is scheduled for 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm at the City Range Grill (615 Haywood Road). The event, which is open to the public, includes a social and a speaker panel answering questions. Catamount Central for the 2013 SoCon Baseball Tournament will be held Mac's Speed Shop (930 South Main Street). Catamount fans are invited out for a pre-game gathering two hours prior to the scheduled first pitch
Every game WCU plays in post-season will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network and presented by the Stanberry Insurance Agency. Fans can follow the broadcasts through Stretch Internet on CatamountSports.com.