Baseball Southern Conference

ABCA/Rawlings names All-America, All-Region teams

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The 2019 ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Div. I All-American and All-Region teams have been released by the American Baseball Coaches Association and Rawlings Sporting Goods. UNCG relief pitcher Chad Sykes was named to the All-America second team, while Sykes and Western Carolina outfielder Matthew Koehler earned spots on the Atlantic Region first team and Samford first baseman Sonny DiChiara and right-handed pitcher Zach Hester earned spots on the Central Region first team. Western Carolina third baseman Justice Bigbie was named to the Atlantic Region second team and Samford outfielder Jordan Fucci was a second-team selection on the Central Region team.

Sykes finished the 2019 season with a 6-3 record, recording 11 saves in 56 innings and giving up only 36 hits in 27 appearances for the Spartans. He finished with a 0.96 ERA, the lowest among all NCAA Division I pitchers and ranks nationally in four other categories including hits allowed per nine innings (17th with 5.79), saves (31st with 11), WHIP (51st with 1.04) and strikeouts per nine innings (63rd with 10.93). The senior reliever was selected in the 10th round (No. 301) by the Los Angeles Angles in the 2019 MLB Draft last week.

DiChiara led the Bulldogs in both home runs (21) and RBIs (55) this season while hitting .293 for the season and recorded a team-best .646 slugging percentage. During the season, he had 15 multi-hit games and a team-high 15 multi-RBI games.

Hester posted a record of 7-4 with a 2.17 earned run average during the 2019 season. The junior struck out 82 batters while allowing just 12 walks and limiting opposing hitters to a .216 batting average.

Koehler paced Western Carolina and the SoCon in batting average (.361) and slugging percentage (.649). He finished the season with 74 base hits, including 10 doubles, a SoCon-high tying five triples and a team-best 13 home runs. The redshirt senior was selected in the 31st round (No. 944) by the Oakland Athletics in the 2019 MLB Draft last week.

Fucci recorded a slugging percentage of .589 this season, recording 14 doubles, two triples, 15 home runs and 49 RBIs while hitting .308. He accumulated 18 multi-hit games and 14 multi-hit RBI games.

Bigbie, the 2019 SoCon Player of the Year, recorded a team-best 75 base hits, including 11 doubles and 12 home runs, this season. The sophomore ranked third in the conference in batting average with a .355.

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.

The ABCA, founded in 1945, is the primary professional organization for baseball coaches at the amateur level. Its over 11,000 members represent all 50 states and 23 countries. Since its initial meeting of 27 college baseball coaches in June 1945, Association membership has broadened to include eight divisions: NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, NJCAA, Pacific Association Division, High School and Youth. The 76th annual ABCA Convention will be held Jan. 2-5, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.