HATTIESBURG, Miss. – After already setting a school record with 32 victories this season, Marshall baseball earned five 2016 Conference USA All-Conference selections, as well as top league awards for Coach Jeff Waggoner, assistant coach Tim Donnelly and first baseman Tommy Lane.
Waggoner was named Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year, while Donnelly received the league’s Assistant Coach of the Year honor. Lane, a junior college transfer, was selected as the Newcomer of the Year, as C-USA announced its 2016 honors Tuesday.
Lane, pitcher Chase Boster, left fielder DJ Gee, center fielder Corey Bird and pitcher Joshua Shapiro also earned spots on the all-conference teams. Lane, Boster and Gee earned first team honors, while Bird was a second team selection. Shapiro was chosen to the C-USA All-Freshman Team.
In a vote by a 12-school panel consisting of each head coach, each team’s media relations member and a media representative who covers each program, Waggoner, in his 10th season guiding the Herd, became the first Marshall coach to earn a Coach of the Year honor since Jack Cook was the Southern Conference Coach of the Year in 1989. Cook previously had won the honor in 1978.
With the Herd as the No. 2 seed in the C-USA Tournament opening here on Wednesday, Waggoner has led the Thundering Herd to a program record in single-season wins with 32, while setting a new high in Conference USA wins with 21. It is Marshall’s first winning season since 1994. The Herd was picked to finish 12th (last place) in the preseason poll voted on by coaches, but finished the regular season in second place, just a half game out of first.
Donnelly, who also is the Herd’s recruiting coordinator, has directed one of the most productive lineups in Conference USA this season. The Herd ranks in the top three of 16 batting categories in league play. Marshall stands first in hits (315), RBIs (189), doubles (69), home runs (36), steals (50), total bases (504) and at-bats (1,043).
Lane made an immediate impact in his first season with the Herd, leading the conference with 13 home runs and a team-high 48 RBIs. The Pendleton, Ore., junior is batting .305 with 61 hits and a .540 slugging percentage. Lane leads the Herd in multi-RBI games with 14, including a five-RBI game against Middle Tennessee. In league play, Lane finished with six doubles, seven homers and 28 RBIs.
Boster, a senior, has delivered on his selection as a 2016 preseason all-conference honoree, leading Marshall with a team-high seven wins, including six in conference action. Boster ranks in the top 10 of seven different pitching categories in league play: wins (T-1st, 6), games started (T-1st, 10), innings pitched (3rd, 68.2), batters struck out looking (3rd, 18), strikeouts (5th, 55), ERA (9th, 2.88), opposing batting average (9th, .232). The Stafford, Va., native finished the regular season by winning his last five conference starts. Boster is tied for first for the most career wins in Marshall history with 19.
Gee landed a spot on the all-conference team after turning in a strong senior season. The senior from Seattle is hitting .301, while leading Marshall with 17 doubles and two triples. Gee has 63 hits with a .474 slugging percentage and a .360 on-base percentage. In league play, Gee ranked in the top three of five hitting categories: doubles (1st, 14), total bases (2nd, 77), hits (t-2nd, 49), batting average (3rd, .392) and slugging percentage (3rd, .616). Gee is second in the conference in stolen bases with 22 and was named to the 12-player C-USA All-Academic Team on Monday.
Bird, a junior, is one of four players to appear in all 51 games for the Herd this season. The Elkview, W.Va., product owns a .289 batting average, with 61 hits, 43 runs scored and 20 RBIs. Bird leads Conference USA in stolen bases with 33. His steals total ranks eighth in NCAA Division I, and he shares the Herd team lead in multi-hit games with Gee, at 20 apiece.
Shapiro earned a spot on the 12-member C-USA All-Freshman Team. He’s made 18 appearances, with nine starts. The Columbus, Ohio, resident is 4-5 with a 5.46 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 59.1 innings. In league play, he holds a 4-2 record in seven appearances. Shapiro’s best outing of the season came against No. 17 Florida Atlantic, as he went seven innings, allowing no runs on four hits and picked up his first collegiate win.
The Herd (32-19, 21-9 C-USA) opens play at the 2016 C-USA Tournament at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday against seventh-seeded FIU (27-27, 15-15 C-USA) at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss.
2016 CONFERENCE USA BASEBALL AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
CJ Chatham, Jr., SS, Florida Atlantic
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Jon Duplantier, Jr., RHP, Rice
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Ford Proctor, Fr., SS, Rice
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Tommy Lane, Jr., 1B, Marshall
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
CJ Chatham, Jr., SS, Florida Atlantic
KEITH LECLAIR COACH OF THE YEAR
Jeff Waggoner, Marshall
ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR
Tim Donnelly, Marshall
FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF CJ Chatham, Jr., Florida Atlantic
IF Danny Hudzina, Sr., WKU
IF Tommy Lane, Jr., Marshall
IF Tim Lynch, Sr., Southern Miss
OF Dylan Burdeaux, Jr., Southern Miss
OF Jake Sandlin, Sr., Southern Miss
OF DJ Gee, Sr., Marshall
C Chuckie Robinson, Jr., Southern Miss
DH/UT Kaleb Duckworth, So., WKU
SP Chase Boster, Sr., Marshall
SP Jon Duplantier, Jr., Rice
SP Kirk McCarty, Sr., Southern Miss
SP Casey Sutton, Jr., Louisiana Tech
RP Glenn Otto, So., Rice
SECOND TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
IF Riley Delgado, Jr., Middle Tennessee
IF Brett Netzer, So., Charlotte
IF Logan Sherer, Jr., Charlotte
IF Ford Proctor, Fr., Rice
OF Corey Bird, Jr., Marshall
OF Connor Myers, Sr., Old Dominion
OF T.J. Nichting, Jr., Charlotte
C Zack Soria, Jr., FIU
DH/UT Jonathan Washam, Jr., Louisiana Tech
SP Cord Cockrell, Sr., Southern Miss
SP Brandon Rhodes, Sr., Florida Atlantic
SP Ricardo Salinas, So., Rice
SP Sam Sinnen, Jr., Old Dominion
SP Marc Stewart, So., Florida Atlantic
RP Cameron Ragsdale, Jr., Florida Atlantic
IF Bryan Arias, UTSA
SS Ford Proctor, Rice
C Tyler Frank, Florida Atlantic
OF Blake Benefield, Middle Tennessee
OF Reece Hampton, Charlotte
OF Brewer Hicklen, UAB
DH Dominic DiCaprio, Rice
DH Hunter Slater, Southern Miss
LHP Nick Swan, Florida Atlantic
LHP Joshua Shapiro, Marshall
RHP Nick Sandlin, Southern Miss