Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina landed five players on the 2017 University Division All-State Baseball teams released on Friday by the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA). It was the ninth-straight year that WCU had players on the squad, and the sixth-consecutive year in having multiple players honored.
Redshirt senior Bryson Bowman collected honors for a second-straight season, headlining the Catamounts' selections with a first team nod after last year's second team honor. Senior LHP Bryan Sammons collected his second-straight, second team honor, while senior second baseman Nobu Suzuki, junior shortstop Brett Pope, and senior right-hander Korey Anderson each tallied second team plaudits.
Nominees for the annual all-state awards were submitted by North Carolina sports information professionals and voted on by the NCCSIA membership.
Bowman collected Southern Conference Player of the Year and first team all-conference plaudits following a strong final season. He has been named to a pair of postseason All-America teams, garnering third team plaudits from both National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and from Collegiate Baseball. The Baton, N.C., native claimed WCU's team Triple Crown, leading the Catamounts in batting average (.381), RBI (59), and home runs (11). Combined, he ranked inside the SoCon's top 10 in 10 statistical categories at the season's end.
Sammons was a second team All-Southern Conference honoree as a starting pitcher after finishing the season with an 8-3 overall record, a 3.02 ERA, and a career-best 108 strikeouts. Sammons ended his collegiate career ranked tied for fourth in school history with 27 victories and second in career strikeouts with 325 -- a mark which also ranked him seventh in SoCon history. The Wilmington, N.C., native was an eighth round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Pope was a second team All-SoCon selection from his shortstop position in 2017. He finished tied for the team lead -- and tied for third overall in the SoCon -- with 83 base hits in 2017, pacing the squad with 27 multiple-hit games. Overall, Pope batted .342 with career-highs of 12 doubles, three triples, and four home runs. Defensively, Pope -- who was listed on the initial Brooks Wallace Award Watch List -- was a part of turning 28 double-plays for the Catamounts. The Statesville, N.C., native was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2017 MLB Draft.
A first team All-Southern Conference selection at second base, Suzuki batted a career-high .330 (64-for-194) last season with 11 doubles, a triple, and four home runs with 35 RBI. He was plunked 14 times to rank second in the SoCon. The Tokyo, Japan, native finished ranked 21st on WCU's career hit by pitch lists with 22 over two seasons in the Purple & Gold, while he also appeared on the program's career charts in a fourth-place tie with 21 sacrifice hits. In the field in 2017, Suzuki was a part of turning 34 double plays.
Anderson made a team-high 30 appearances out of the bullpen in 2017, tied for the 15th-most in a single-season in school history. Tossing 43.2 relief innings on the year, the Grayson, Ga., native posted a 3.92 ERA with a team-high five saves including his first of the season against the defending national-champion, Coastal Carolina, and three coming in conference play for the league's regular season runner-up.
WCU's five selections were tied for second-most among the 27-member first and second team, matching the five honorees from Charlotte. UNC Wilmington had the most with six including five named to the first team. None of the baseball programs from the Atlantic Coast Conference nominated players for the vote.
Founded in 2002, The North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) is comprised of sports information professionals from NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA and independent institutions from the state of North Carolina. The purpose of the organization is to promote collegiate athletics at all schools. Membership is open to anyone affiliated with a college, university or conference located in North Carolina, and whose area of responsibility lies within sports information.
NCCSIA selects all-state teams in the University (Division I) and College (Division II, III, NAIA) divisions for men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, softball, and baseball.
Western Carolina's All-Time NCCSIA All-State Selections:
2007: Kenny Smith, INF
2009: Brent Greer, INF
2010: Matt Benedict, SP
2011: Ross Heffley, INF
2012: Ross Heffley, INF; Preston Hatcher, RP
2013: Tyler White, INF (1st); Aaron Attaway, INF (2nd); Julian Ridings, OF (2nd); Preston Hatcher, RP (2nd); Jeremy Null, SP (2nd)
2014: Adam Martin, C (1st); Jacob Hoyle, INF (1st); Bradley Strong, INF (1st); Jordan Smith, SP (2nd); Tyler Powell, RP (2nd); Cody Jones, OF (2nd); Taylor Sandefur, DH (2nd)
2015: Bradley Strong, INF (1st); Matt Smith, DH (1st); Danny Bermudez, C (2nd)
2016: Matt Smith, INF (1st); Danny Bermudez, C (2nd); Bryson Bowman, OF (2nd); Bryan Sammons, SP (2nd)
2017: Bryson Bowman, OF (1st); Brett Pope, INF (2nd); Nobu Suzuki, INF (2nd); Korey Anderson, RP (2nd); Bryan Sammons, SP (2nd)