Demons claim three individual honors, place five on All-SLC teams

Sports

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State baseball team’s turnaround season and those responsible for it have been rewarded for their efforts by the Southland Conference.

Senior first baseman/catcher David Fry became the first Demon to earn Southland Conference Player of the Year honors since 2005 while junior right-handed pitcher Jerry Maddox was named league Newcomer of the Year. Second-year head coach Bobby Barbier was named the Clay Gould SLC Coach of the Year, giving Northwestern State three of the league’s seven individual honors.

“Awards like these are meaningful, because it’s your peers who are voting on them,” Barbier said.

Fry finished the regular season as the conference leader in RBIs (51), doubles (25), OPS (1.069) total bases (135) and slugging percentage (.616), tied for the league lead in home runs (11) and held top-10 marks in hits (75, T-5th), on-base percentage (.453, 6th), walks (36, 6th) and batting average (.342, 8th).

Fry established the school single-season record for doubles as well as career marks for doubles (73) and at-bats (825). He is four total bases away from breaking Brandon Morgan’s school record in that category. He will represent Northwestern State in Tuesday’s Southland Conference Home Run Derby at Constellation Field.

Defensively, Fry was involved in 47 double plays, another league-leading mark for the Grapevine (Texas) High School product.

With his selection to the first-team as a first baseman, Fry completed a four-year career that saw him named to the all-conference team in each season – as a third-team second baseman in his freshman season with second-team selections as a sophomore (second base) and as a junior (first base). He is NSU’s first Southland Conference Baseball Player of the Year since Blake Jones in 2005.

“It’s remarkable,” Barbier said. “It’s remarkable what he’s done. He deserves every bit of that Player of the Year award – it’s the most prestigious award we give. I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.

“He deserves it because of the work he’s put in that’s obviously produced great results. He’s been a consistent player in his four years here, improved every year and I couldn’t be prouder of him for that.”

Maddox, a transfer from San Jacinto Junior College, began the season as the Demons’ mid-week starter but moved into the weekend rotation on April 8, sparking a run in which Northwestern State went 14-7 in conference play.

In seven conference starts, Maddox went 5-1 with a 1.64 ERA, tossing quality starts in his first six outings before working a designated short start in the regular-season finale at New Orleans on Saturday.

Overall, Maddox paced the league in ERA (2.11) and batting average against (.187) while finishing with a 7-3 record.

“We always knew Jerry was really talented,” Barbier said. “Guys figure it out on their own time. It took him a little while to get comfortable, to get going, but Jerry’s been tremendous. Jerry always finds a way to have two or three of his pitches going from his four-pitch mix. They’re four really good pitches, so if he has two or three, that’s going to be enough. If he has all four, he’ll be dominant.”

Fry’s continued growth gave the Demons a lineup anchor while Maddox helped the Demons post a 3.42 team ERA, which leads the Southland and ranks 24th nationally. Those numbers helped the Demons produce an eight-win improvement in conference play and 13 more total wins than in the 2017 season.

After being picked to finish 11th in the league’s preseason poll, the Demons ended the season tied for third in the conference and earned the No. 3 seed in the SLC Tournament, which begins Wednesday.

For those efforts, Barbier was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.

“I’m very humbled,” Barbier said. “I believe it should be the Coaching Staff of the Year. I can’t say enough about those guys over there. To get back at 11:30 Saturday night after a five-day road trip, to get up early and have recruits in, to spend so much time away from their families recruiting, I’m so thankful for those guys. That award is a reflection of their work and what the players have done more than anything.”

Fry was the Demons’ lone first-team selection, but Maddox was named one of the three second-team pitchers.

Northwestern State placed three players on the third team – outfielder Kwan Adkins, pitcher Ridge Heisler and designated hitter J.P. Lagreco.

Adkins’ breakout senior season saw him collect more hits (71), runs (39), triples (2), home runs (2), total bases (87), walks (23) and stolen bases (7) than he had in his first three years as a Demon.

Adkins finished the regular season ninth in the conference in batting average (.338) and added five outfield assists.

“What a special year for Kwan,” Barbier said. “He stuck with it through some tough individual years. To get through a year like we had last year, it’s nice to see him rewarded for sticking it out. He’s a great leader for us, plays hard all the time. He’s what you want in a player.”

Lagreco finished third on the team in doubles (9) and RBIs (33), knocked the fourth-most home runs (four) had NSU’s longest hitting streak of the season, a 14-game run in March.

“J.P. can change the game for us with his power,” Barbier said. “When he’s going well, we’re a much better lineup.”

Heisler gave the Demons their second all-conference pitcher while also being named to the league’s All-Defensive Team.

Heisler went 6-2 with a 3.18 ERA and spent all season in the weekend rotation. He moved to the Friday starter’s role with seven weeks remaining in the season. Defensively, Heisler handled all 28 chances without an error, induced 15 of NSU’s Southland-leading 61 double plays and started four of them. He added a pair of pickoffs on the mound.

“Ridge has been solid for us all year long,” Barbier said. “To be a Friday-night pitcher is hard to do. You don’t get to see their lineup except on video. Saturday and Sunday guys, they get to watch in person, but Friday you have to go out and set the tone.”

The third-seeded Demons open Southland Conference Tournament play at 9 a.m. Wednesday when they face No. 6 seed McNeese. That game, along with all of the Demons’ postseason action, can be heard on 100.7 FM KZBL in Natchitoches and will stream on www.NSUDemons.com.

All Southland Conference Tournament games will be televised on ESPN Plus.

Player of the Year: David Fry, Northwestern State

Freshman of the Year: Ridge Rogers, UIW

Newcomer of the Year: Jerry Maddox, Northwestern State

Hitter of the Year: Matt Heck, Houston Baptist

Pitcher of the Year: Tyler Gray, Central Arkansas

Relief Pitcher of the Year: Dakota Mills, Sam Houston State

Clay Gould Coach of the Year: Bobby Barbier, Northwestern State

2018 All-Southland Conference First Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

1B

David Fry4

Northwestern State

Sr.

Colleyville, Texas

2B

Kyle Bergeron

UIW

So.

Bridge City, Texas

3B

Owen Magee

New Orleans

Sr.

Metairie, La.

SS

Andrew Fregia2

Sam Houston State

Jr.

Liberty, Texas

C

William Hancock

Central Arkansas

Jr

Little Rock, Ark.

DH

Dalon Farkas

Abilene Christian

Jr.

Milton, Ga.

OF

Matt Heck

Houston Baptist

Sr.

Midlothian, Texas

OF

Drew Avans2

Southeastern Louisiana

Sr.

Alabaster, Ala.

OF

Spencer Halloran

Houston Baptist

Sr.

Sheffield, Iowa

P

Tyler Gray

Central Arkansas

Sr.

Fort Smith, Ark.

P

Bryan Warzek2

New Orleans

Jr.

Clifton Park, N.Y.

P

Matthew McCollough

Houston Baptist

Sr.

Katy, Texas

U

Jackson Owens

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Sr.

Corinth, Texas

2018 All-Southland Conference Second Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

1B

Harrison Dinicola

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Jr.

Kemah, Texas

2B

Cody Grosse

Southeastern Louisiana

Jr.

Plainfield, Ill.

3B

Rigo Aguilar

Central Arkansas

Sr.

El Paso, Texas

SS

Joey Morales

Nicholls

Sr.

Fort Myers, Fla.

C

Beau Bratton

New Orleans

So.

Biloxi, Miss.

DH

Jackson Owens

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Sr.

Corinth, Texas

OF

Hunter Strong2

Central Arkansas

Jr.

Sheridan, Ark.

OF

Eddy Gonzalez

UIW

Jr.

Laredo, Texas

OF

Itchy Burts

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

So.

League City, Texas

P

Carlisle Koestler

Southeastern Louisiana

Jr.

Vicksburg, Miss.

P

Jerry Maddox

Northwestern State

Jr.

Dayton, Texas

P

Dakota Mills

Sam Houston State

Sr.

Meadows Place, Texas

U

Cole Coker

Lamar

So.

Huffman, Texas

2018 All-Southland Conference Third Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

1B

Tyler Smith

Central Arkansas

Jr.

Deer Park, Texas

2B

Joe Provenzano3

McNeese

Sr.

Downers Grove, Ill.

3B

Jake Georgiades

Stephen F. Austin

Jr.

College Station, Texas

SS

Tyler Depreta-Johnson2

Houston Baptist

Sr.

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

C

Drake Osborn

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

So.

Sandia, Texas

DH

J.P. Lagreco

Northwestern State

Jr.

Pearl River, La.

OF

Chet Niehaus

Nicholls

Sr.

Hammond, La.

OF

Hunter Hearn

Sam Houston State

Jr.

Crosby, Texas

OF

Kwan Adkins

Northwestern State

Sr.

Brusly, La.

P

Corey Gaconi2

Southeastern Louisiana

Jr.

Metairie, La.

P

Ridge Heisler

Northwestern State

Jr.

Mangham, La.

P

Hayden Wesneski

Sam Houston State

So.

Cypress, Texas

U

Derek Scott

Abilene Christian

Jr.

Abilene, Texas

2018 Southland Conference All-Defensive Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

1B

Tyler Smith

Central Arkansas

Jr.

Deer Park, Texas

2B

Ethan Valdez

Nicholls

Jr.

San Antonio, Texas

3B

Rigo Aguilar

Central Arkansas

Sr.

El Paso, Texas

SS

Tyler Depreta-Johnson

Houston Baptist

Sr.

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

C

William Hancock

Central Arkansas

Jr.

Little Rock, Ark.

LF

Shane Selman

McNeese

Jr.

Lake Charles, La.

CF

Chet Niehaus

Nicholls

Sr.

Hammond, La.

RF

Nick Anderson

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Jr.

Sugar Land, Texas

P

Ridge Heisler

Northwestern State

Jr.

Mangham, La.

Honorable Mention: 1B: Blake Chisolm, Sam Houston State. 3B: Enrique Sanchez Jr., Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. SS: Josh Somdecerff, Central Arkansas. C: Dustin Duhon, McNeese; Kyle Knauth, Nicholls. DH:Colby Leblanc, Central Arkansas; Logan LeJeune, Lamar. OF: Clayton Harp, Sam Houston State; Matt Munoz, Abilene Christian; Ridge Rogers, UIW. P: Ryan Erickson, Lamar; John Barr, New Orleans; Josh Green, Southeastern Louisiana; Seth Ballew, Sam Houston State. U: Collin Morrill, New Orleans; Josh Campbell, Stephen F. Austin.

2 Two-time all-conference selection

3 Three-time all-conference selection

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