May 20, 2013

Austin Pritcher Selected SoCon Pitcher of the Year; Seven Bulldogs Named to All-Conference Team

Spartanburg, S.C. – Seven Citadel players have been named to the All-Southern Conference baseball team by the league's coaches and media, a group headed by senior right-hander Austin Pritcher as the SoCon Pitcher of the Year. Pritcher was joined on the all-conference first team by catcher Joe Jackson.

Selected to the second team by the coaches were Hughston Armstrong, Bo Thompson, Skylar Hunter and Mason Davis. Armstrong, Thompson, Hunter and Calvin Orth were on the media second team, and Hunter was also chosen to the 12-man all-freshman squad.

Pritcher finished the regular season with a record of 8-2 and a SoCon-leading 2.45 ERA. He also ranks second in innings pitched (92.0), tied for second in wins and opponent batting average (.237) and ninth in strikeouts (72).

The James Island High School graduate enters his start against Appalachian State in the opening round of the conference tournament on Wednesday having won his last five decisions and has not lost since March 29 against Western Carolina. In his seven starts since then, Pritcher has allowed only 10 earned runs in 50 1/3 innings for an ERA of 1.79.

His hot streak included his second career shutout in a 6-0 win over Furman on April 26 when he tossed a five-hitter with no walks and six strikeouts. Two weeks later he had his second complete game of the year, surrendering only six hits and one run with four strikeouts in a 7-1 victory over College of Charleston. Six of his eight wins this year came against SoCon opposition.

Pritcher was named the SoCon Pitcher of the Week after the wins over the Paladins and Cougars and was also the SoCon Pitcher of the Month for his performance in both February and April. He has a total of 22 victories and 314 innings pitched in his career, the most for any active SoCon hurler, as well as 228 strikeouts and a 3.73 ERA.

Jackson (Mauldin, S.C./Mauldin) was having a solid season through the end of March, batting .309 with four home runs and 29 RBI before turning into a candidate for conference player of the year honors over his final 28 games. Over that stretch the junior catcher went 44-for-105 (.419) with 11 doubles, eight homers and 33 RBI and hit safely in all but four games.

He is currently batting .363, the sixth-best mark in the SoCon, and also ranks second in RBI (62) and on-base percentage (.468), tied for second in runs scored (58), fourth in total bases (132), fifth in slugging percentage (.614) and walks (37), tied for sixth in doubles (16) and tied for seventh in hits (78).

In conference games only, Jackson is first in slugging percentage (.805), on-base percentage (.521), RBI (42), runs scored (41) and home runs (11), second in total bases (91), third in batting average (.407), doubles (12) and walks (24) and tied for sixth in hits (46).

Jackson entered the 2013 campaign with only one home run to his credit before reaching double figures this season. He left the yard in eight of 10 SoCon series and had a two-homer game against Davidson on May 4. He also had three games with a career-best five RBI.

After batting a combined .208 the past two years, Armstrong (Columbia, S.C./Ridge View) exploded onto the scene in his third season as a Bulldog, leading the team and ranking third in the SoCon with a current batting average of .379. He also ranks among the conference leaders in runs scored (tied for sixth, 50), on-base percentage (seventh, .446), hits (tied for seventh, 78) and sacrifice bunts (second, 13).

He has nine doubles and two triples and hit his first career home run against East Tennessee State on April 17. He has swiped 18 bases in 19 attempts and committed only one error in 144 chances in the outfield for a fielding percentage of .993. Armstrong had a five-hit game against Appalachian State on April 21 as part of a career-long 11-game hitting streak.

Thompson (Mauldin, S.C./J.L. Mann) has been a powerful force in the clean-up spot in The Citadel lineup, slamming a team-leading 14 home runs and driving in 50 runs despite drawing a conference-high 52 walks. He is batting .296 with 10 doubles and 42 runs scored and leads the SoCon with a .472 on-base percentage as well as ranking second in homers.

The sophomore designated hitter suffered an ankle injury against VCU on March 2 before coming back six days later to hit three home runs and drive in five runs in the SoCon opener against Samford. He added another two-homer game among his career-high five hits and matched his career best with five RBI against Furman on April 27.

Hunter, a graduate of Hanahan High School, is second in the SoCon with 11 saves and has appeared in 30 games on the year, tied for the seventh most in the conference. In 33 innings he has struck out 40 batters, an average of 10.91 strikeouts per nine innings, and has fanned 24 batters looking, the only relief pitcher in the conference to rank in the top 10 in that category.

Davis (Conyers, Ga./Redan) continued his ironman streak this year, having started all 114 games at second base in his two seasons since joining the Bulldog program. This season he is batting .311, a 45-point increase from a year ago, with 10 doubles, four triples, four home runs, 58 runs scored, 23 RBI and 22-27 in stolen bases.

He is tied with Jackson for second in the SoCon in runs and is third in triples and fifth in hits (79) and steals. Davis hit safely in 23 of the final 26 games of the regular season, including a career-high four against Davidson on May 3, and had two homers and a career-high five RBI against UNCG last Thursday.

Orth (Jacksonville, Fla./Episcopal) took over at first base when Thompson suffered his ankle injury and has been in the lineup ever since. He has taken full advantage of his extended playing time, batting .320 with nine doubles, seven home runs and 30 RBI, and has been particularly effective in league play with a .331 average, all seven of his round trippers and 21 RBI.

Orth put together a 14-game hitting streak from April 14-May 10, the longest by a Bulldog this season, going 27-for-58 (.466) during that run to raise his average to a season-high .337. He had a career-high five hits including two doubles and a triple against Davidson on May 3 and homered twice and drove in a career-best five runs against Georgia Southern on April 12.

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