McNeese’s Payton Harden crowned Southland Baseball Player of the Year

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MCNEESE’S PAYTON HARDEN

Cowboys lead with nine all-conference selections, four all-defensive honorees

FRISCO, Texas – McNeese’s Payton Harden is the 2022 Southland Conference Baseball Player of the Year, the league announced Monday along with the all-conference teams.

A catalyst from the No. 2 spot in the lineup, Harden led the Cowboys in batting average (.348) and ranked among the top-10 in the league in hits (31) and RBI (22) against conference opponents. He registered 10 multi-hit performances in 22 Southland games, including a career-high five hits against HBU on the final weekend. Harden hit 8-of-14 from the plate with 10 RBI to power McNeese to a sweep of the Huskies and secure the program’s fifth conference title.

New Orleans outfielder Pearce Howard earns Hitter of the Year recognition after pacing the league with 39 hits and tallying the second-most RBI (32) in conference action. A three-time Southland Hitter of the Week, he recorded a team-high 22 two-out RBI on the year. Howard amassed eight three-hit performances in league play, including a series victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in which he finished 11-of-15 at the plate with 11 RBI across the three contests.

Grant Rogers becomes the second-consecutive McNeese hurler to garner Pitcher of the Year honors after finishing in the top-five in opposing batting average (.203), innings pitched (46.2) and wins (four) against conference foes. He finished the league slate 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA and a team-high 37 strikeouts. In an April 1 road start at Nicholls, Rogers tossed seven scoreless frames with five punchouts and just two hits allowed.

When Rogers was done for the day, the ball was likely ending up in the hands of teammate Cameron Foster, who is this year’s Relief Pitcher of the Year after finishing as the league leader in ERA (2.61) in 13 appearances in conference play. The 6-foot-5 righty ranked second in opposing batting average (.192) and hits allowed (20) to league foes. Foster logged a pair of wins and three saves in Southland competition and tallied eight outings of at least two innings.

Making an immediate impact on the bump for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Zach Garcia takes home the Freshman of the Year title after going 3-2 in eight starts on the weekend rotation. In 40.2 innings of work, he racked up the third-most strikeouts (42) among Southland pitchers in conference action. Named to the all-league second team, Garcia notched three conference starts with seven strikeouts, including contests against top-two seeds McNeese and Southeastern.

An East Central CC transfer, New Orleans’ Amani Larry is the league’s Newcomer of the Year after posting top-five marks in on-base percentage (.487), OPS (1.087), runs (34), hits (35) and doubles (eight) in his first season with the Privateers. He has played a vital role in UNO’s No. 2 national ranking in double plays per game, accounting for 40 on the year. Larry closed out the regular season having reached base safely in 17-straight games and owns a nine-game hit streak heading into this weekend’s Southland Baseball Tournament.

Justin Hill is tabbed the 2022 Clay Gould Coach of the Year after leading McNeese to its fifth regular-season Southland Conference title and first since 2017. The Cowboys led the way in both slugging percentage (.491) and team ERA (4.39) in conference competition. After a series sweep at the hands of UNO dropped the Pokes to 3-6 in the Southland on April 10, he inspired the squad to respond with a 12-3 mark down the stretch with three series sweeps.

McNeese led the way with nine total all-conference nods, followed by New Orleans and Nicholls each with six. UIW and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi each landed five on the lists, and Northwestern State and Southeastern each accounted for four spots. HBU placed a trio of individuals on the teams.

For the second-straight season, McNeese led the league in all-defensive selections with four. Southeastern placed two on the squad, and representatives from UIW, Nicholls and Northwestern State rounded out the team.

The all-conference teams are nominated and voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Voting for oneself or one’s own athletes is not permitted.

Player of the Year: Payton Harden, McNeese

Hitter of the Year: Pearce Howard, New Orleans

Pitcher of the Year: Grant Rogers, McNeese

Relief Pitcher of the Year: Cameron Foster, McNeese

Freshman of the Year: Zach Garcia, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Newcomer of the Year: Amani Larry, New Orleans

Clay Gould Coach of the Year: Justin Hill, McNeese

2022 All-Southland Conference First Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

1B

Preston Faulkner2

Southeastern

Gr.

Denham Springs, La.

2B

Amani Larry

New Orleans

So.

Bossier City, La.

3B

Josh Leslie

McNeese

R-Jr.

Kenosha, Wis.

SS

Grant Smith

UIW

Jr.

Albuquerque, N.M.

C

Bo Willis

Northwestern State

So.

Magnolia, Texas

DH

Tre Jones

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

So.

Houston, Texas

OF

Payton Harden2

McNeese

R-Jr.

Atascocita, Texas

OF

Pearce Howard2

New Orleans

Sr.

Silver Spring, Md.

OF

Brendan Ryan

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Jr.

Leawood, Kan.

SP

Johnathan Harmon

Northwestern State

So.

Hornbeck, La.

SP

Grant Rogers

McNeese

R-So.

Groves, Texas

SP

Tyler Theriot

Nicholls

Jr.

Brusly, La.

RP

Cameron Foster

McNeese

R-Sr.

Houston, Texas

U

Alec Carr

UIW

Jr.

Sugar Land, Texas

2022 All-Southland Conference Second Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

1B

Steven Rivera-Chijin

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Sr.

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

2B

Brad Burckel

McNeese

R-Jr.

Lindale, Texas

3B

Roberto Gonzalez

UIW

Jr.

Houston, Texas

SS

Reid Bourque

McNeese

R-Sr.

Moss Bluff, La.

C

Bryce Grizzaffi

Southeastern

Jr.

Morgan City, La.

DH

Alec Paz

Nicholls

Gr.

Dallas, Texas

OF

Braden Duhon

McNeese

R-So.

Moss Bluff, La.

OF

Xane Washington

Nicholls

R-Jr.

Houma, La.

OF

Issac Williams

New Orleans

So.

Alexandria, La.

SP

Cal Carver2

Northwestern State

Jr.

San Antonio, Texas

SP

Zach Garcia

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Fr.

New Braunfels, Texas

SP

Will Kinzeler

Southeastern

So.

Covington, La.

RP

Andrew Reitmeyer

HBU

Sr.

Carlsbad, Calif.

U

Kade Morris

McNeese

R-Sr.

Alvin, Texas

2022 All-Southland Conference Third Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

1B

Edgar Alvarez

Nicholls

So.

Orlando, Fla.

2B

Daunte Stuart2

Northwestern State

So.

The Woodlands, Texas

3B

Kasten Furr2

New Orleans

So.

Ruston, La.

SS

Parker Coddou

Nicholls

So.

Thibodaux, La.

C

Miguel Useche

New Orleans

So.

Caracas, Venezuela

DH

Kade Hunter

McNeese

R-So.

Comfort, Texas

OF

Josh Caraway

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

So.

Roanoke, Texas

OF

Wilson Ehrhardt

UIW

Sr.

Katy, Texas

OF

Austin Roccaforte

HBU

Jr.

Tomball, Texas

SP

Devin Desandro

Nicholls

So.

Thibodaux, La.

SP

Michael Garza

UIW

Sr.

Corpus Christi, Texas

SP

Tyler LeBlanc

New Orleans

So.

Lafayette, La.

RP

Gage Trahan

Southeastern

Gr.

Maurice, La.

U

Jake Miller

HBU

Sr.

Round Rock, Texas

2022 Southland Conference All-Defensive Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

1B

Kade Morris

McNeese

R-Jr.

Alvin, Texas

2B

Brad Burckel

McNeese

R-Jr.

Lindale, Texas

3B

Shea Thomas

Southeastern

Jr.

Olympia, Wash.

SS

Reid Bourque

McNeese

R-Sr.

Moss Bluff, La.

C

Bryce Grizzaffi

Southeastern

Jr.

Morgan City, La.

LF

Jeffrey Elkins

Northwestern State

Jr.

Lafayette, La.

CF

Ridge Rogers

UIW

Sr.

Flower Mound, Texas

RF

Xane Washington

Nicholls

R-Jr.

Houma, La.

P

Grant Rogers

McNeese

R-So.

Groves, Texas

2 Two-time all-conference selection

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