May 6, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina senior right-handed pitcher Jordan Smith and junior men's golfer J.T. Poston were recognized today as the Southern Conference announced its Athletes of the Month from competition in April. Selections are made by the league office from nominations submitted by each institution's media relations staff.
Smith is the second Catamount to earn the monthly pitching award from the conference this season as junior Jeremy Null captured that honor in the first month of the season in February. Smith is the fourth different WCU hurler to earn the honor dating back to 2007. Poston becomes just the third different Catamount men's golfer to earn monthly recognition, joining Matt Cook - who was honored a league-record nine times between 2005 and '07 - and Ricky Stout, an October, 2009 honoree.
Smith went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in four April starts to pace the Catamount starters. The senior from Liberty, N.C., went at least seven innings in each appearance, striking out 26 batters against just six walks in 33 innings of work. Smith threw the first of his two complete games of the season in the month, on April 6, allowing just eight hits and one earned run in the Catamounts' 3-1 win over UNCG. He struck out five and walked just one.
He suffered his only loss of the month against Furman on April 13, allowing three earned in seven innings, but bounced back with a then season-high 10 strikeouts in a five-hit complete-game win over The Citadel in which he allowed just two runs. Smith closed his month with eight strong innings in a 7-1 win over Samford, allowing just an unearned run on five hits and a walk, striking out six.
Smith (8-3) continued to leave his mark in the WCU record book in April, becoming the school's all-time leader in career starts - currently with 56 starts - and moving inside the top five in program history in career wins. The four-year starter currently ranks second in career innings pitched (355.0), fourth in career strikeouts (275) and is tied for sixth with 25 wins for the Purple & Gold.
Currently, Smith leads the SoCon in innings pitched (85.1), eighth in strikeouts (66) including 30 strikeouts looking, tops among league pitchers.
Poston turned in a pair of top-two finishes in a strong April to cap a dominant regular season, tying for second at the Coca-Cola Wofford Invitational and winning the SoCon Men's Golf Championship in Pinehurst, N.C. All six of Poston's rounds in April were even-par or better, with three of them in the 60s and five of them below par as he posted a 69.00 stroke average.
The Hickory, N.C., product shot an eight-under par, 208, at the Coca-Cola Wofford Invitational, opening with a two-under, 70, before posting a four-under round of 68 and closing with another 70 to finish in a five-way tie for second place. Poston then won a chip-off to claim the runner-up hardware.
He capped the regular season by leading wire-to-wire at the SoCon tournament, winning the event with a 10-under par, 206 - the best individual 54-hole score carded by a WCU men's golfer in the conference championship event. Poston bolted out to an eight-stroke lead after the first two days with a four-under 68 and a six-under 66 before capping off the tournament with an even-par 72 in the final round to secure the win.
On the year, Poston boasts a 69.97 seasonal scoring average which is nearly two full strokes ahead of the previous school benchmark. A combined 25 of his 30 seasonal rounds have been shot at even-par or better including 16 rounds in the 60s. Combined, he has won four tournament individual titles this year.
Poston, who became just the third Catamount all-time to earn SoCon Player of the Year plaudits at the conclusion of the tournament, is ranked sixth in the latest Golfstat Cup Standings and sixth in the Golfstat statistical rankings with a seasonal stroke average of 69.97. Garnering the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA post-season, he opens play in the Raleigh Regional at the Lonnie Poole Golf Club on May 15-17 as the top-seeded individual in the field.
Western Carolina's Athletes of the Month in 2013-14:
Morgan Cochran, Volleyball - Defense
Jared Johnson, Men's Indoor Track & Field - Field Jeremy Null, Baseball - Pitcher