TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011
Walker leads seven A-Sun All-Conference selections
The JU baseball team had a program-best seven Dolphins earn eight Atlantic Sun all-conference team honors, topped off by “Player of the Year” accolades for sophomore first baseman Adam Brett Walker.
The previous best for the Dolphins was six all-conference honors for five team members in 2010.
Sophomore center fielder Dan Gulbransen, who was a 2011 preseason A-Sun selection with Walker, also joins his fellow Wisconsin native on the conference first team list. Junior starting pitcher Steve Eagerton, junior shortstop Jimmy Howick and freshman reliever Chris Anderson garnered second team accolades while second baseman Taylor Ratliff, starting pitcher Tony Mollica and Anderson all were named to the freshman team.
“We are happy to see our guys receive these honors,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “Each one of them is very deserving of these awards and will be a big part of us trying to earn another NCAA bid starting on Wednesday.”
Walker, who becomes the first Dolphin to earn the conference “POY” award since Pete Clifford in 2007, currently leads the A-Sun with a .415 batting average and 22 doubles while also leading JU with 12 home runs, 90 hits, 70 RBI, 152 total bases, a .700 slugging percentage and a .492 on-base percentage. He has also been noticed on the national level by being named one of 60 players for the Golden Spikes Award by USA Baseball and as one of 36 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association of America (NCBWA).
Gulbransen, who earns first team honors for the second straight season, was the only field player to receive unanimous selection to the first team – joining ETSU reliever Bo Reeder as a unanimous selection by the A-Sun coaches. Gulbransen is currently second on the squad with a .362 batting average, 61 runs, 76 hits, 17 doubles, two triples, 115 total bases, a .548 slugging percentage and a .471on-base percentage.
Eagerton, who is enjoying a career season after suffering through elbow injuries in each of the last two seasons, earns his first all-conference selection after leading the A-Sun with an 8-0 record. In his first full season since 2008, he ranks second among JU starters with a 4.23 ERA and 72.1 innings pitched. He becomes the first Dolphin starter to go undefeated in the regular season since Matt Dobbins in 2006.
Howick, who is also garnering all-conference accolades for the first time, flourished in his first full season at shortstop after starting 47 games at third base in 2010. He currently ranks second on the squad with two triples, third with 46 RBI, fourth with eight doubles, 88 total bases and 10 multi-RBI games and is fifth with a .320 batting average.
Anderson, who was forced to move to the closer role after injuries plagued the pitching staff, proved one of the top closers in the conference by tying for third with 10 saves. He also was the workhorse of staff by ranking second in the conference with 32 appearances and 26 games finished. Anderson finished third on the JU staff with a 4-2 record while ranking second with a .229 opponent batting average.
Mollica was instantly inserted into the starting rotation as a true freshman and finished with a 3-3 record and a 4.64 ERA in 12 starts. He ranked third on the squad with 54.1 innings and 41 strikeouts while allowing only 40 hits. Mollica garnered all-conference honors after leading the A-Sun with a .211 opponent batting average.
Ratliff was played in several positions throughout the 2011 season but finally found a home at second base, starting 14 games during the year. The catalyst for the high-powered JU offense as a lead-off hitter, he ranked sixth in the A-Sun with 22 steals. Ratliff finished fourth on the squad with a .352 batting average, 54 runs, 64 hits, eight doubles and a .429 on-base percentage.