Nashville, Tenn. - The Atlantic Sun Conference announced the league's post-season baseball awards on Tuesday evening at the tournament banquet and the Hatters were very well represented. Stetson earned the Pitcher of the Year, Coach of the Year, four First Team All-Conference and one Second Team All-Conference nods, and one All-Freshman Team honor.
Sophomore Kurt Schluter (Jupiter, Fla.) headlined the group after being voted the A-Sun Pitcher of the Year. Schluter leads the league in ERA at 1.40, is tied for the lead in wins with 8, and is second in opponent batting average at .230. He finished with a 5-0 record, a 0.97 ERA and 37 strike outs in conference games. Schluter has not surrendered a home run all season and leads the team in strike outs with 55.
Head Coach Pete Dunn was voted the A-Sun Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his 32-year career. He led the Hatters, who were picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches poll, to a 40-win regular season, a 23-7 conference record, and a first place finish in the A-Sun. It was the first A-Sun regular-season title and the first 40-win season for Stetson since 2007.
Stetson placed more players on the 2011 A-Sun First Team than any other school. It is the most first team members for Stetson since 2007 when it placed seven players on the list.
Joining Schluter on the All-Conference First Team are Nick Rickles (Loxahatchee, Fla.), Robert Crews (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and Mark Jones (Bunnell, Fla.). All three are juniors as far as eligibility and all three are former A-Sun All-Freshman Team members and Freshman All-Americans. Second-Team honors went to Lindsey Caughel (Orlando, Fla.), and Austin Perez (Loxahatchee, Fla.) was voted to the All-Freshman Team.
Rickles, a catcher, is a Johnny Bench Award semifinalist, a member of the Golden Spikes Midseason Watch List, and was twice named A-Sun Player of the Week in 2011. He started all 56 games and leads the team in batting at .359, hits with 79, doubles with 20, home runs with 11, and is tied for the team lead in RBI with 58. He has struck out just seven times all season including a streak of 137 at bats to open the season (178 at bats overall dating back to 2010). He leads the A-Sun in pickoffs with seven and has thrown out 21 runners attempting to steal.
Second baseman Crews played and started 55 games for the Hatters. He is third on the team and has the highest batting average among A-Sun second basemen at .338. He leads the team in runs scored with 50, is tied for the team lead in at bats with 222, is second in hits with 75 and is third on the Hatters in home runs with four and RBI with 37. He is also 9-for-11 in stolen bases and leads the team in assists with 156.
Shortstop Jones played in 54 games with 53 starts. He missed two games early in the season due to a hand injury. He leads the team in triples with four and is second in batting at .340, slugging percentage at .486 and doubles with 11. He is also second on the Hatters behind Jeff Simpson in stolen bases (16-for-17). Jones had a season-high hitting streak of 16 games and is third on the team in multiple-hit games with 23.
Junior Lindsey Caughel was voted to the All-Conference Second Team as a starting pitcher. Caughel has been Stetson's Friday night starter for most of 2011. He finished the regular season with a 6-1 record and a 3.76 ERA. Caughel is tied for 4th on the team in strike outs with 45 and has surrendered just 16 walks all season. He was 5-1 with 31 strike outs in A-Sun games. Caughel was named A-Sun Pitcher of the Week after his opening day start put his team on track for a series sweep of the University of Georgia. He tossed five complete innings allowing just one run on seven hits and struck out six batters.
Austin Perez was a valuable addition to the Hatters staff as a freshman. He started the season as a reliever and a weekday starter, yet was thrown into the role of weekend starter after injuries to both Schluter and Caughel. He made a pair of Friday night starts in A-Sun games and threw very well keeping the Hatters in both games. He completed the regular season with a 2-2 record, 4.31 ERA and 45 strike outs in 48 innings pitched. Overall he made 20 appearances with seven starts.
No. 1 Stetson opens the A-Sun Tournament Wednesday morning in Nashville with an 11:00 a.m. (12:00 p.m. eastern) game against No. 6 Belmont. Caughel is slated to start on the mound for the Hatters.