Matt Johnson has been breaking records ever since he set foot on the Arkansas Tech campus. Now the senior center fielder from Grand Saline, Texas, is making more Wonder Boys baseball history.
Johnson became the first Arkansas Tech baseball player to ever be named Gulf South Conference West Division player of the year when the league office announced the GSC postseason baseball awards on Wednesday, May 4.
The Wonder Boys piled up a ton of hardware on awards day. Danny Parker was named GSC West freshman of the year and a total of six Wonder Boys were named to the All-GSC West Division first and second teams.
Johnson was joined on the first team by Arkansas Tech senior second baseman Josh Riley. The Wonder Boys were represented on the All-GSC West second team by senior outfielder Colt Loehrs, junior shortstop Chris Reese, junior designated hitter Nate Wilder and sophomore outfielder Madison Beaird.
The GSC postseason awards are voted on by conference head coaches.
Johnson leads the GSC in batting average this season. He is hitting .465 entering the GSC Tournament, which will begin on Friday in Millington, Tenn. Johnson enters the postseason with a 25-point lead in the race for the GSC batting title. West Florida's Greg Pron, the GSC East Division player of the year, is second in the GSC with a .440 average.
Johnson also ranks among the GSC leaders in total bases (1st, 146), slugging percentage (1st, .737), runs scored (1st, 72), base hits (1st, 92), stolen bases (T-1st, 35), on-base percentage (2nd, .509), triples (T-3rd, 4), doubles (4th, 19), home runs (T-4th, 9) and runs batted in (T-7th, 49).
Johnson has already broken his own single-season school records for base hits and runs scored this year. He needs two stolen bases to break the single-season mark he set in that category during the 2010 season. He needs five total bases to own that single-season school mark.
Parker, a left-handed freshman pitcher from Pottsville, earned the league's rookie award with a 7-3 record. His earned run average this season is 6.22 in 11 pitching appearances, 10 of which have been starts.
Parker is the first Arkansas Tech baseball player since pitcher Dennis Jones of Conway to earn GSC West freshman of the year honors. Jones captured the award in 2003.
Riley is hitting .323 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 2011. Originally from Sulphur Springs, Texas, Riley is tied for seventh in the GSC this season in doubles (16).
Loehrs is from Arkansas City, Kan. He carries a .345 average with six home runs and 35 runs driven in.
Reese's batting average is .343 during the 2011 campaign. He has two home runs and 27 RBIs. The Gilbert, Ariz., product is eighth in the GSC in runs scored (48) and sixth in the league in walks (31) this season.
Wilder has recorded 34 hits during his first season in the green and gold and 20 of them have gone for extra bases. He is just the 10th Wonder Boy to ever hit 10 or more home runs in a season. Wilder, who is from Lincoln, Neb., is hitting .337 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs. He ranks third in the GSC in home runs during the 2011 campaign.
Beaird is from Russellville. He is hitting .342 with three home runs and 37 runs batted in. Beaird is tied for ninth in the GSC in base hits (63) and he is tied for third in the league in triples (4).
Under the direction of second-year head coach Dave Dawson, the Wonder Boys are 29-17 overall this season. They will be the No. 4 seed from the GSC West in the 2011 GSC Tournament.
Arkansas Tech will open the postseason by facing GSC East Division champion and nationally top-ranked West Florida at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, May 6, at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn.
That game can be heard in the Arkansas River Valley on KCAB 980 AM.
Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast.
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