HUNTSVILLE – Three Sam Houston State players have been named to the 2017 Southland Conference Baseball All-Academic Teams, based on a combination of athletic and academic performance this past season, the league office announced Thursday.
Lance Miles and Heath Donica each earned first-team all-academic selections while Seth Ballew was honored as a second-team member. The Bearkats, who produced a team GPA of 3.26 during the 2016-17 academic year, carried the momentum onto the field, capturing the Southland Tournament championship and NCAA Lubbock Regional title in route to the NCAA Tallahassee Super Regional.
Miles, who owns a perfect 4.0 GPA since transferring to Sam Houston, received his degree in general business this semester from the university. On the field, the second baseman produced 15 multi-hit games and 10 multi-RBI games while making 59 starts and 60 appearances.
Donica's first-team accolade comes after posting a 3.25 GPA in general business in route to receiving his degree. The right-hander produced one of the most dominant season's in Sam Houston lore and was a 21st round selection in the MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
The Corsicana native struck out 109 hitters -- the most in Division I program lore and the second-most in team history and was named Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year, notching a 6-0 record in league play behind a 2.28 ERA.
Ballew continued his excellence in the classroom, posting a 3.50 GPA while majoring in banking and financial institutions. The redshirt sophomore earned a spot in Sam Houston's weekend rotation, recording a 6-3 record and 4.03 ERA across 14 starts and 18 appearances.
The Bearkats matched Central Arkansas for the second-most picks in the league. The All-Academic teams are voted on by head coaches, sports information directors and academic and compliance staff members from each Southland Conference institution.
Student-athletes must possess a 3.0 cumulative GPA, have completed one full academic year at the nominating institution and participated in at least 50 percent of the team's competition to qualify for All-Academic selection, excluding pitchers.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the all-academic honors…
“First and foremost, these guys making the team is a testament to who they are as men and how they were raised and what their priorities are. They are hard-working young men. They understand there is more than being a baseball player for five or six months of the year. There is also a future to plan. Where we come in is the development of men – mind, body and spirit. We're looking to develop well-rounded student-athletes that are ready to leave here and be a success in their communities, families and everything else they touch.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the expectations and standards…
“There is a standard here and there is a bar that everybody has to get over. Those guys are the catalysts for that. When you have really good players all over the bar, you will get something special. This team has great leadership and it starts with action. Those guys take the action every day to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. I couldn't be more proud of these guys. They deserve it. It's a huge part of what we do to deserve success in dotting our I's and crossing our T's.”