Southern University’s Tyler LaPorte and coach Kerrick Jackson walked away with the top honors on the All- Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball team announced by the league Tuesday.
LaPorte, a senior third baseman from Lafayette, shared the Most Valuable Player honors with Alabama State’s Yamil Pagan, and was one of four Jaguars named to the first team. He was joined by senior shortstop Malik Blaise. senior center fielder Javeyan Williams and senior closer Connor Whalen.
Jackson engineered a worst-to-first Southern turnaround in his second season as coach. Southern is 29-21 after beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff 11-7 in its SWAC tournament and trying to secure the team’s first NCAA tournament appearance in nine seasons. Southern was 9-33 last year.
Southern received one other top award when Whalen, a righthander, was named Relief Pitcher of the Year. He’s saved seven games and has not allowed a run in 15⅓ innings.
Two Jaguars were named to the second team, designated hitter Johnny Johnson and pitcher Eli Finney.
LaPorte started every game for Southern and batted .376 while leading the conference in hits (83) and doubles (17). He had a .548 slugging percentage and led the team with 55 RBIs, second in the league, despite batting leadoff.
Williams’ .373 batting average was second to LaPorte and he led the team in slugging (.584) and on base percentage (.462). He had 39 RBIs and led the team with seven triples and 26 stolen bases in 27 tries. Blaise batted .309 with 14 doubles and 11 stolen bases.
Johnson played outfield and designated hitter and batted .329 with two homers and 27 RBIs.
Finney went 4-2 with a 5.38 earned run average, including a victory over LSU in which he allowed one run and one hit in seven innings. He pitched 49⅓ innings and struck out 38, tied for the team lead.
Pagan was named Hitter of the Year and teammate Darren Kelly Pitcher of the Year. Equon Smith of Jackson State was named Newcomer of the Year and Ricardo Rivera of Alabama State Freshman of the Year.