After leading his team to the program’s first conference championship since 1992, SWOSU’s Zack Saunders has been named the Great American Conference Coach of the Year for the second time. His team also placed a program-best eight players on the 2016 All-GAC teams, which were announced on Thursday afternoon.
Earning first team honors for SWOSU were starting pitcher Jon Chidester, outfielders Korbin Polston and Jacob Spring and designated hitter Zach Barton. Starting pitcher Gunnar Cook and outfielder Tanner Dearman claimed second team honors while relief pitcher Quintin Dougherty and second baseman CJ Faddis earned honorable mention.
Saunders led the Bulldogs to their first Great American Conference Championship in 2016 after being picked to finish eighth in the league’s preseason poll. SWOSU has also tied a single-season school record for the NCAA Division II era with 33 wins, marking a 14-win improvement from 2015. This is Saunders’ second GAC Coach of the Year award after he previously earned the honor in 2013.
Chidester (Rhome, Texas) earns his second consecutive First Team All-GAC selection after finishing the regular season with an 8-4 record. He is a two-time GAC Pitcher of the Week and he has also earned the NCBWA Central Region Pitcher of the Week and D2 Baseball HERO of the Week honors this season. Chidester threw four complete games and he leads the Bulldogs with 80 strikeouts and he has an earned run average of 2.68 in 87.1 innings pitched.
Polston (Midwest City, Okla.) earns his first all-conference selection after ranking second on the team with a .346 batting average during his senior season. He was named the GAC Player of the Week on March 7 and he finished the regular season tied for the team lead with 64 hits and 11 doubles while ranking second with nine home runs and 51 RBI.
Spring (Shawnee, Kan.) is a first-time All-GAC selection in his junior season after leading the Bulldogs with 12 home runs and 57 runs batted in during the regular season. He is a two-time GAC Player of the Week this year and he was also a nominee for D2 Baseball HERO of the Week in April. Spring is hitting .314 for the year, ranking third on the team with 55 hits and ten doubles and he ranks second in the GAC in RBI.
Barton (Omaha, Neb.) earns his first all-conference accolades at SWOSU after serving as the Bulldogs designated hitter during his senior season. He ranks third on the team with a .329 batting average and he’s fourth on the team with 49 hits. Additionally, he’s scored 22 runs and batted in 24 more with five doubles to his credit.
Cook (Elk City, Okla.) earns an all-conference nod in his first year with the Bulldogs. He has made 12 starts on the hill and he leads the team with a 9-3 record, including one complete game thrown. Cook has an earned run average of 3.42 and he’s second on the team with 76 strikeouts in 71.0 innings of action.
Dearman (Anadarko, Okla.) earns all-conference honors after his first and only season in centerfield for the Bulldogs. He leads the GAC and ranks seventh in NCAA Division II with 63 runs scored this year and he’s tied for the team lead with 64 hits and 13 stolen bases.
Dougherty (Wichita, Kan.) picks up an all-conference selection in his first year at SWOSU. He leads the team with a 2.00 earned run average, making 23 appearances out of the bullpen and throwing 27.0 innings on the hill this season. Dougherty leads the team and ranks fourth in the GAC with seven saves.
Faddis (DeSoto, Kan.) garners an all-conference nod after his second season playing on the infield for SWOSU. He was named the GAC Player of the Week on April 4 and he finished the year with 39 hits and a .307 batting average. Faddis tied for the team lead with 13 stolen bases and he added 22 RBI while starting 41 games at second base.
SWOSU Baseball returns to action on Friday afternoon, hosting Arkansas Tech at 3:00 pm in the first game of their best-of-three series in the GAC Tournament’s opening round.