TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2007
Clifford, Gardner and Opachich earn A-Sun All-Conference honors
May 22, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
Senior left fielder Pete Clifford kept things in the family by earning Atlantic Sun Conference "Player of the Year" accolades and junior pitcher Matt Gardner earned second team honors, while freshmen third baseman Chuck Opachich was named to the all-freshman team, it was announced by the conference office Tuesday.
Clifford, who also earned first team honors for the second consecutive season, continued JU's tradition of producing the top player in the conference after Daniel Murphy received the honor last season. He also becomes the third Dolphin to receive the accolade after Chad Hauseman earned the honor in 2003.
"We are certainly proud of all of our players and especially the ones who have outstanding years," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "We are thrilled to have Pete represent us and the conference as the player of the year."
Clifford, who leads the squad in 13 offensive categories, is leading the A-Sun in RBI (53), total bases (127) and walks (39). He is also second in home runs (11), slugging percentage (.626) and third in batting average (.360) and on-base percentage (.465).
Clifford also became the first Dolphin to earn A-Sun "Player of the Week" accolades three times in a season since Hauseman accomplished the feat during the 2003 season. On March 12, Clifford also joined Hauseman (April 7 & 14, 2003) as the first A-Sun player to win the award in consecutive weeks.
Gardner earns his first conference honors after transferring from Chabot Junior College this season. He spent the majority of the season in the starting rotation with six appearances out of the bullpen along with five starts at shortstop due to injuries. Gardner ranks third in the conference with a 3.14 ERA, while also leading the Dolphins with six wins, 13 starts, 83.0 innings pitched and a .244 opponent batting average. He notched his first career shutout with a 5-0 decision over Mercer on March 31 while also tallying two saves in two chances.
Opachich was a catalyst at the plate after being inserted into the lineup due to injuries in the infield. In only 46 games, he finished second on the squad with a .330 batting average, a .394 on-base percentage and 15 stolen bases. Opachich also ranked third with 61 hits and 11 doubles. JU finished the 2007 regular season with a 30-25 overall record and a 15-12 mark in the Atlantic Sun Conference. With the 30 wins, the Dolphins have now reached that plateau 12 times under Alexander.
The Dolphins will be in search of their eighth NCAA Regional bid when the squad competes against No. 3 Belmont on Wednesday at 3 p.m., in the first round of the 2007 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship presented by Progress Energy at Melching Field.