Mobile County is blessed with many outstanding athletic teams in the collegiate ranks. Most will agree that to have successful teams, you must have great athletes.
That is certainly the case for the University of Mobile’s (UM) Hunter Avery. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has named the junior pitcher to its first-team, All-American roster following his outstanding season for the Rams.
The 6-foot-1 right-hander, who played at Mobile Christian School, ended the season tied for first in the NAIA rankings for saves. In 31 relief appearances, he recorded a dozen saves.
In 53 innings pitched this season, Avery allowed only 42 hits and 19 runs. He struck out 46 batters and posted an earned run average of 2.38.
“Hunter Avery is the student-athlete that you hope you can build your team around as a coach,” Mike Jacobs, who just completed his 30th year as the Rams’ skipper, told Lagniappe. “He is an excellent student in the classroom — Hunter has over a 3.0 GPA — a great teammate and a fierce competitor on the mound.”
The Rams qualified for the NAIA National Tournament this year. Jacobs will be counting on his ace reliever to get them back next year.
“He stays calm under pressure and has been a winner from high school at Mobile Christian through his junior year at UM,” Jacobs said. “He will be called upon to be one of the leaders on his team in 2020. We are excited to see what he does in his senior season at University of Mobile.”
Avery was named first-team, All-Conference by the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) and was on the SSAC All-Academic team. This last semester, he achieved a 4.0 GPA while majoring in business. He was also named to the University of Mobile President’s List for his academic achievement.
Avery is just one among a large number of area athletes who have earned postseason honors. Several will be mentioned in the next few weeks, starting here with baseball.
** University of South Alabama (USA) freshman outfielder Ethan Wilson has been named third-team, All-America by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings. Wilson had already earned first-team, All-Central Region honors, which allowed him to be nominated for the All-America accolades.
He was also named the Co-National Freshman of the Year by Collegiate Baseball, first-team, Freshman All-America by Collegiate Baseball, third-team, All-America by Collegiate Baseball and a first-team, Freshman All-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
The native of Andalusia, Alabama, was voted the 2019 Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, and was a first-team, All-SBC selection in the outfield. He is the only National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I freshman in the nation to be named a conference player of the year.
He ranked second in the SBC in slugging percentage (.686) and total bases (151), tied for second in home runs (17 for a USA freshman record), tied for third in runs scored (59), sixth in batting average (.345) and on-base percentage (.453), tied for eighth in hits (76), ninth in RBIs (51) and tied for ninth in doubles (16).
** USA right-handed pitcher Zach Greene has been named third-team, All-America by D1Baseball. Greene was selected second-team, All-America by the NCBWA, as well as first-team, All-Central Region by the ABCA/Rawlings. The New York Yankees took him in the eighth round (255th overall pick) of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft.
A 2019 first-team, All-SBC selection, Greene ranked second in the conference in saves (13) while finishing 2-0 with a 1.45 earned run average in 27 relief appearances. He struck out 70 batters against eight walks in 49 2/3 innings pitched.
He became South’s single-season leader with his 13th save in a win at Appalachian State, passing Kyle Bartsch (2013) and Mike Nakamura (1995) on the school’s list. He finished his career with 18 saves, which ranks tied for second on the program’s all-time list.
** Spring Hill College shortstop Daniel Rodriguez has been selected to the NCAA Division II Google Cloud Academic All-America third-team roster. The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) selected the baseball squad.
The junior was previously selected to the Google Cloud Academic All-District, first-team roster. He was also named first-team, All-South Region by ACBA/Rawlings and second-team, All-South Region by the Division II Collegiate Commissioners Association.
In addition to a 3.66 GPA in economics, Rodriguez was the Badgers’ lone first-team selection by the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). He hit .364 for the Badgers during the regular season and led the team in runs batted in (46), total hits (52), total bases (86), home runs (9) and being hit by a pitch (7). He scored 37 runs. Defensively, he posted a .918 fielding percentage.
During the conference tournament, Rodriguez hit .389 with two doubles, two home runs, seven runs scored and 14 RBIs, including a nine-RBI performance to lead Spring Hill in the SIAC Championship Game. This earned the Badgers a berth in the NCAA Division II Tournament, where he added three more hits, one run and an RBI to finish the season with a .365 average and 61 RBIs.
BICENTENNIAL DAY AT STATE PARKS
The Alabama State Parks Division will celebrate 200 years of Alabama statehood on the 200th day of 2019 — July 19 — by declaring it Bicentennial Day. On that Friday, Alabama’s state parks will offer free admission, free parking and a 20-percent discount on overnight accommodations (some exceptions apply).
Free admission covers all gate and day-use fees and includes free sightseeing and fishing at the Gulf State Park Pier. A saltwater fishing license is still required when fishing from the Gulf State Park Pier or beaches. Free parking includes the Beach Pavilion parking lot at Gulf State Park. The discount on overnight accommodations is for July 19 only and does not apply to groups or include The Lodge at Gulf State Park.
In addition to Alabama’s bicentennial, the state parks system is celebrating its 80th anniversary. Alabama became a state on December 14, 1819. Work on what would become Alabama’s oldest continuously operated park (Cheaha) began in the early 1930s. Today, there are 21 parks in the Alabama state parks system. For more information, visit alapark.com.
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