LIVINGSTON, Ala. - The regular season comes to a close this weekend, as the No. 1 West Florida baseball team (40-5, 15-2 GSC) visits West Alabama (18-20, 4-13 GSC) in a three-game Gulf South Conference series in Livingston. Saturday’s doubleheader will start at 3 p.m., and the regular season finale on Sunday is set for a 1 p.m. start.
2011 UWF Baseball Game Notes:
- 4/29 @ West Alabama
- 4/22 vs. Valdosta State
- 4/16 @ Alabama-Huntsville
- 4/9 vs. West Alabama
- 4/2 vs. Lambuth
- 3/26 @ North Alabama
- 3/19 vs. West Georgia
- 3/12 vs. Arkansas Tech
- 3/5 @ Valdosta State
- 2/26 vs. Florida Southern
- 2/19 vs. Delta State
- 2/12 vs. Flagler
- 2/1 vs. Montevallo, @ Rollins
By the Numbers
.625 ... Zach Taylor’s batting average in three games vs. West Alabama
1 ... hits allowed by Shane Waller in 36 at bats against right-handers
1.194 ... Greg Pron’s OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage)
2 ... runs allowed by UWF starting pitchers in three games vs. West Alabama on 4/9-10
Back-to-Back East Champs
The Argonauts have clinched their second straight GSC East Division regular season championship this year, marking the fourth in school history and second under head coach Mike Jeffcoat. The worst the Argonauts can finish is 15-5 (.750), which would tie UWF with North Alabama (12-4, .750) in winning percentage. UNA was scheduled to play at Alabama-Huntsville this weekend, but all UAH athletic events were canceled due to damage from tornadoes in the area earlier this week. UWF would win the potential tiebreaker with UNA because the Argonauts swept the Lions in a rain-shortened two-game series earlier this year.
Brandon Brewer and Greg Pron have been four-year starters for the Argonauts, and they have made their marks in the UWF record books. Brewer is UWF’s all-time leader in walks (126), sacrifice bunts (35) and assists (608), and Pron is the program leader in RBIs (170), stolen bases (73), strikeouts (124) and hit-by-pitches (33).
Senior Jason Postill is having a season to remember, as he has picked up wins in all but one of his 12 starts this year. The right-hander from Orlando is 11-0 and ranks first in the GSC and second in Division II in wins. With one more victory, Postill would tie Brett McCullough for the most wins in a single season in school history, as McCullough posted 12 wins in UWF’s 2007 GSC championship season. Daniel Vargas-Vila (10-1) and Ben Hawkins (9-1) also have a chance to match or break that record as well.
Scouting West Alabama
The Tigers (18-20, 4-13) have lost their last three games and 10 of their last 12, but they are looking to end their season on a positive note. Jeb Huber (5-3, 2.49 ERA) leads the UWA starting rotation, while Ladarrius Cole (.364 AVG, 43 R, 18 SB) and Brian Simone (.361 AVG, 3 HR, 38 RBI) are the team’s top offensive threats.
Raising the Bar
Daniel Vargas-Vila was an All-GSC first team pick with the Argonauts in 2010, going 8-3 with a 4.16 ERA, but he has stepped up even more in 2011. In the same amount of innings pitched (80.0), the senior has two more wins and allowed 26 fewer runs and 43 fewer hits. The Jacksonville native is 10-1 with a 2.14 ERA this year, and he ranks second in the GSC with a .176 opponents’ batting average.
Senior Brandon Brewer has spent much of the year hitting in the nine spot, but he hit leadoff in the last two games against Valdosta State. Brewer leads the team and the GSC in on-base percentage at .534, and he has also reached base at a .630 clip when leading off an inning. The shortstop has hit in the leadoff spot three times this year and 32 times in his four-year career.
NCAA D-II Statistics Rankings
Batting Average ... 6th
Runs ... 12th
Hits ... 8th
Doubles ... 14th
Triples ... 28th
Home Runs ... 29th
Slugging Percentage ... 12th
Stolen Bases ... 15th
Walks ... 18th
Earned Run Average ... 14th
Batting Average ... Greg Pron (12th)
... Brandon Brewer (16th)
Hits ... Greg Pron (19th)
Runs Batted In ... Greg Pron (18th)
Slugging Percentage ... Greg Pron (26th)
Total Bases ... Greg Pron (25th)
On-Base Percentage ... Brandon Brewer (13th)
Stolen Bases ... Greg Pron (24th)
... Dustin Lawley (30th)
Walks ... Brandon Brewer (30th)
Wins ... Jason Postill (2nd)
... Daniel Vargas-Vila (3rd)
... Ben Hawkins (11th)
Saves ... Shane Waller (18th)
Strikeouts ... Jason Postill (9th)
... Ben Hawkins (27th)
The Argonauts’ school record winning streak was snapped at 22 games, as UWF fell 9-5 in the second game of a doubleheader at Alabama-Huntsville on April 16. During those 22 games, West Florida outscored the opponents 188-75. The Argonauts hit .350 as a team during the streak, and the pitching staff posted a 2.89 ERA.
New Bats, Same Power
The new bats in NCAA college baseball have made plenty of headlines this year, as offensive numbers trend downward, but UWF is having one of its best offensive seasons. The team enters this weekend with a .345 team batting average, which ranks first in the GSC and sixth in Division II, and the Argos are averaging just under eight runs per game. Last season was one of the team’s top offensive years in school history, as the Argos finished the year with a .315 average and seven runs per game.
Hawkins Makes History
Junior Ben Hawkins hurled a seven-inning no-hitter in UWF’s 2-0 win over West Alabama on April 9, marking the second no-hitter in UWF’s 17-year history as a Division II school. The left-hander struck out 12 batters and allowed four base runners, two by walk and two by hit-by-pitch. For his efforts, Hawkins was named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, NCBWA Division II National Pitcher of the Week, and Gulf South Conference Pitcher of the Week.
Head coach Mike Jeffcoat has surpassed two different coaching milestones this year, picking up career win number 300 and win number 200 while at UWF. The sixth year head coach is now 206-124 at West Florida, and he is 313-262 in 11 total seasons including five at Alabama Southern Community College.
Argonauts in the Minors
Former Argonaut pitchers John Church and Kevin Johnson are currently in Single A baseball to start to 2011 minor league season. Church started the year pitching out of the bullpen for the St. Lucie Mets (New York Mets Advanced A affiliate, Florida State League), while Johnson is the closer for the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Los Angeles Angels Single A affiliate, Midwest League). Church pitched at UWF in 2009, while Johnson pitched for the Argos in 2009 and 2010.
Tino Martinez Watch List
Seniors Dustin Lawley and Jason Postill were two of 91 student-athletes to be named to the preseason watch list for the Tino Martinez Award, an award honoring the top overall player in Division II baseball. College Baseball Lineup recently updated the watch list with several additions from teams across the country, including Ben Hawkins, Greg Pron and Daniel Vargas-Vila from UWF. Erskine College slugger Bryan Fogle was the first Tino Martinez Award winner in 2010.
GSC Players of the Week
UWF has claimed six GSC pitcher of the week honors and three player of the week awards so far this year. The Argos had four straight pitcher of the week winners from 2/22 through 3/15, a first in conference history.
Players of the Week
3/8 - Greg Pron
3/22 - Dustin Lawley
4/19 - Greg Pron
Pitchers of the Week
2/22 - Daniel Vargas-Vila
3/1 - Ben Hawkins
3/8 - Jason Postill
3/15 - Daniel Vargas-Vila
4/12 - Ben Hawkins
4/19 - Jason Postill
Of West Florida’s 36-man roster, 24 of the players are upperclassmen this season. Along with 12 returning seniors, UWF also boasts 12 juniors, including 10 incoming transfers. Of the team’s 12 seniors, five players are back as four-year seniors: Brandon Brewer, Tyler Hastings, Eric Kroll, Greg Pron and Sixto Velasco.
Postseason Coming Soon
The 2011 postseason will start for the Argonauts on May 6 in Millington, Tenn., as the team travels to the Gulf South Conference Tournament at USA Stadium. The Argonauts have clinched the No. 1 seed from the East Division for the five-day, double-elimination tournament. UWF will look for its second GSC championship, as the team’s first came in 2007.