Tide players earn SEC honors

The Alabama Crimson Tide placed five players on the All-SEC team and right fielder Kent Matthes was named the SEC Player of the Year by the coaches. The official releases are below for you baseball fans.

Kent Matthes Named SEC Player of the Year
TUSCALOOSA – Alabama right fielder Kent Matthes was voted the 2009 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the 12 head coaches, the league office announced on the eve of the league’s annual post-season tournament at Regions Park.

“Kent Matthes had a great year and deserves this honor,” Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. “It has been great to sit in the dugout and watch him do the things he has done this year. He has had a great year and put up some incredible numbers. You read sometimes about guys having years like this, but he usually isn’t on your team. This year we have that player and it has been fun watching him on and off the field.”

He is the first Alabama player to win SEC Player of the Year honors since the league began presenting the award in 1993.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the best college baseball league with all the talented players we have in the SEC,” Matthes said. “It is an honor to be named SEC Player of the Year and to be able to accomplish the feat as a senior. This has been an incredible season and I am happy to be a part of this team.”

“I was looking to take advantage of my senior year and make the most of it. I worked hard in the off-season with Dax (Norris) and I got hot early and hit a lot of home runs and they kept coming. I tried to stay focused on winning each game and not the stats.”

The Orlando, Fla., native was the unanimous SEC Player of the Year, after hitting .362 with a 27 home runs and 79 RBI for the Crimson Tide this season. He led the SEC in home runs, total bases (166) and slugging percentage (.883) and was second in the league with 79 RBI. He was also third in runs scored (63) and sixth in hitting this season.

Matthes tied the Alabama single-season record with 27 home runs, which ties him for the national home run lead with Middle Tennessee State’s Bryce Brentz. Matthes slugged his 27th home run of the season in the Tide’s regular season finale at Auburn on May 16 to tie Doug Duke’s single-season home run record set in 1986.

“It’s been a great year for Alabama,” Matthes added. “I am glad that I have helped this team get to where we are now. If I am hitting home runs and driving in runs; that means people are on base and we have a chance to win.”

He has four multi-home run games and one walk-off home run this season. In addition, 15 of his 27 home runs have tied the game or given Alabama the lead, including 10 go-ahead home runs. He also has nine game-winning RBI.

In March, he set the Alabama record with a home run in six straight games and was twice named National and SEC Player of the Week. He hit for the cycle on Feb. 24 against Nicholls Stand and followed that up with a walk-off 10th inning home run the next day.

Matthes also joined LSU right-hander Louis Coleman as the only two unanimous First-Team All-SEC picks this season. In SEC play, Matthes led the league in slugging (.774) and ranked second with 13 home runs. He was sixth in RBI (35) and 10th in on-base percentage (.449) in 29 league games.

Matthes also holds the Alabama career record with 23 outfield assists, breaking the previous record of 22 outfield assists held by Scott McClanahan from 1999-2002. He has seven outfield assists this season.

“Coach Wells told me at the beginning of the season, he wanted be to be a complete player,” Matthes said. I think I was able to accomplish that this year.”

Matthes will lead No. 4 seed Alabama into the 2009 SEC Tournament on Wednesday, May 20, at 8:30 p.m. (CDT) against No. 5 seed South Carolina in the final first-round game at Regions Park. The Crimson Tide and the Gamecocks have not met since the Tide won the regular season series in Tuscaloosa in 2007.

Matthes first career home run came in the 2006 SEC Tournament when he hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run against LSU on May 24.

Crimson Tide Has Five First-Team All-SEC Picks
TUSCALOOSA – The University of Alabama baseball team placed five players on the 2009 First-Team All-SEC squad, the league office announced today. The 2009 SEC Player of the Year Kent Matthes highlighted the list of Crimson Tide players on this year’s team.

Joining Matthes, were sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson, sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge, junior third baseman Jake Smith and senior right-hander Austin Hyatt, who is just the third Alabama pitcher since 1986 to earn First-Team All-SEC honors. Pete Roberts (1986) and Wade LeBlanc (2006) were the other two first team pitchers.

Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas was named Freshman All-SEC on Tuesday, while Wilson and Smith were named to the SEC All-Defensive squad.

“We had a great offensive team and all of these guys are very deserving,” Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. “Matthes had a great year with all the home runs and was named SEC Player of the Year. Hyatt was solid too. I don’t think we have ever had a guy that pitched the way he did every Friday night and set the tone for the weekend. “

LSU was the only other team with multiple First-Team All-SEC picks. The Tigers placed three players on the team, including SEC Pitcher of the Year Louis Coleman and SEC Relief Pitcher of the Year Matty Ott. Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Vanderbilt had one first team selection each.

Alabama’s five First-Team All-SEC selections ties the school record for the most in one season. The Crimson Tide also had five First-Team All-SEC picks in 1955, including left-hander Jon Paul Anderson, right-hander Gene Lary, outfielders Bobby Barnes and Bobby Hunt and third baseman Herb Kosten.

Matthes was the unanimous SEC Player of the Year, after hitting .362 with a 27 home runs and 79 RBI for the Crimson Tide this season. He led the SEC in home runs, total bases (166) and slugging percentage (.883) and was second in the league with 79 RBI. He was also third in runs scored (63) and sixth in hitting this season.

Wilson hit .350 with nine home runs and 46 RBI in 51 games this season. He is 12th in the league with his .350 batting average. In SEC play, Wilson was 12th with a .343 batting average. The Hoover native was also named to the SEC All-Defensive Team after a solid season at second base. Wilson led the Tide with 25 double plays this season and finished the campaign with 116 assists. He finished with 12 errors (.946) in 221 chances this year.

Rutledge hit .306 with a career-high five home runs and 42 RBI in 53 games this year. The Cullman, Ala., native is fourth in the league in at-bats (222), fifth in plate appearances (262) and eighth in the league in runs scored (60).

Smith is having his best season with the Crimson Tide this year. The junior is hitting .358 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI, all career bests in 48 games. He is fifth in the SEC in total bases (140), seventh in slugging (.737), eighth in home runs (18) and ninth in hitting (.358). In SEC play, he is fourth in slugging (.687), sixth in home runs (9) and eighth in doubles (9). Smith was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team for the second year in a row after making only five errors (.955) in 112 chances at third base.

Hyatt posted an 8-1 record and 2.96 ERA in 13 starts this season. Alabama was 9-4 in his 13 starts this season and he left with the lead in all 13 games. Hyatt led the SEC in ERA (2.96), opponents batting average (.208), innings pitched (97 1/3) and fewest walks (10). He also ranked third in wins (8) and starts (13) and seventh in strikeouts. In SEC play, the Marietta, Ga., native led the league in innings pitched (78 1/3) and starts (10) and ranked third in ERA (3.22), opponents average (.210) and fewest walks (9). He was also fourth in wins (5) and eighth in strikeouts (69).

Dugas was named to the Freshman All-SEC squad on Tuesday after leading the Tide with a .364 batting average, with two home runs and 27 RBI in 52 games. The Lafayette, La., native was second in the SEC in doubles (19), third in hits (80), fourth in hitting (.364) and seventh in runs scored (61). His 24-game hitting streak is the longest in the SEC this season.