LAFAYETTE — Right-handed pitcher Nick Lee became the second consecutive Louisiana-Lafayette pitcher to be named Sun Belt Freshman of the Year, headlining a group of four Ragin’ Cajuns to earn all-league honors when they were announced Tuesday night.
Senior outfielder Kyle Clement and sophomore pitchers Dylan Moore and Gunner Leger were named to the All-Sun Belt first team. Leger was the recipient of last year’s Freshman of the Year award.
With three players on the first team, the Cajuns tied with co-champions South Alabama for the most first-team nods in the league. UT-Arlington led the conference with five players between the first and second teams.
Lee became the third Cajuns player in the past four seasons to nab SBC Freshman of the Year honors, joining Leger and Blake Trahan (2013).
In 14 regular-season starts, Lee limited his opponents to three or fewer runs in all but three of them. Entering the conference tournament, he is 6-1 with a 3.24 ERA.
He has logged 75 innings in his freshman campaign and only allowed 91 runners to reach base by hit, walk or hit by pitch. He has struck out the most batters (68) on a team that leads the conference in strikeouts (462).
He was joined by rotation mates Leger and Moore, who followed up impressive freshman seasons by getting even better in 2016.
Leger led the SBC in ERA (2.09) and was second in opposing batting average among qualified pitchers (.212). He closed the regular season by throwing 19.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
Moore was even better as the Cajuns’ late-innings dynamo. Even with what were, by his standards, a couple of hiccups at the end of the season, Moore’s numbers were off the charts. He threw 43.2 innings in 22 appearances and allowed opponents to hit just .146 against him. He struck out 17 more batters (52) than he allowed to reach base (35).
Before allowing earned runs in each of his final two appearances — both games the Cajuns would go on to win anyway — Moore had put together an 18-game stretch when he allowed a grand total of one run.
Clement was recognized by coaches despite missing four weeks with a broken forearm. He was hitting .429 when he was hit by a pitch against the University of New Orleans, and he didn’t tail much when he returned to the lineup.
Clement finished the year hitting a team-high .366, and his 13 doubles are nearly enough to rank among the top 10 in the Sun Belt despite missing nearly a month of the season.
Clement, Leger and Moore were recognized as All-SBC performers for the second straight year.
South Alabama’s Kevin Hill also was recognized for the second straight year. The Jaguars ace was named SBC Pitcher of the Year again after going 8-1 with a 2.38 ERA. He led the league in strikeouts (117) and innings (109.2).
Little Rock’s Ryan Scott put together a spectacular season at the plate that resulted in Player of the Year honors. He paced the league in batting average (.433), slugging percentage (.702), on-base percentage (.514), runs (54), hits (90) and RBIs (63). He also finished second in doubles (19) and third in home runs (11).
With Scott leading the charge, Little Rock put together one of its best seasons since becoming an SBC member, tallying a school-record 17 conference wins. For the Trojans’ efforts, Chris Curry was named Coach of the Year.