The 27th-ranked University of Arkansas at Monticello baseball team tied a school record for all-conference selections with seven honorees announced by the Great American Conference office on the day before the league’s championship tournament gets underway.
Senior right fielder Corey Wood also made history by becoming UAM’s first ever baseball conference player of the year in the NCAA era (1996-present). He was one of only two unanimous selections to the All-GAC first team. This is Wood’s second straight All-GAC selection. He made the second team last season.
Wood is currently in the process of setting a new UAM and GAC single-season home run record with a total of 18 heading into this weekend’s GAC tournament opening round games against Harding at home.
The Fredericton, New Brunswick native has also tied UAM’s single-season record for runs batted in, currently sitting on a total of 60. Both of his record chases this season were set previously by UAM Sports Hall of Famer Jamie Tucker, who hit 15 home runs and had 60 RBI in the 1999 season.
Overall, Wood has a .352 batting average, which is currently fourth in the GAC. He leads the league in slugging percentage (.782), ranks third in on-base percentage (.458), ranks first in RBI (60), ranks first in home runs (18) and ranks first in total bases (129).
Wood has 16 games with at least two hits this season and 18 games with at least two RBI. He is currently sporting a 13-game hitting streak, his second longest streak of the season, which was 14. He also currently has a streak of 28 straight games to reach base safely.
In addition to Wood’s honors, six other Weevils have been named to the All-GAC teams. Joining Wood on the first team is sophomore starting pitcher Braden Chambers, junior second baseman Nick Piraino and senior shortstop Evan Comeau.
UAM’s second team All-GAC honorees are senior starting pitcher Zach McKnight and senior catcher Travis Steinke. Senior left fielder Kevin Fitzpatrick earned a spot on the honorable mention team.
Chambers was recently named a semifinalist for the Brett Tomko Division 2 Pitcher of the Year award. During the 2016 regular season, the Fordyce, Arkansas native posted a 10-0 record with a 2.88 earned run average and a .201 opponent batting average. He became just the third pitcher in UAM history to record at least 10 wins in a single season.
Piraino ranks seventh in the GAC with a .345 batting average. The Fullerton, California native posted 14 games with at least two hits and is currently tied with Wood for the longest active hitting streak with 13 straight games.
Comeau enters the postseason as UAM’s all-time and single-season leader in walks. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native ranks fourth in the GAC in on-base percentage (.457) and leads the league in walks (43). His 43 walks this season in a school record. He now has a career total of 111 walks, also a UAM record. Overall this season, Comeau .296 with seven doubles, one triple and his first-ever collegiate home run.
McKnight earns his second All-GAC honor after being selected to the second team in 2014. This season, the Bentonville, Arkansas native has posted a 7-2 record with a 3.91 ERA. He is tied for third in school history with a career total of 20 pitching victories. The record is 24 by Tommy Taylor form 1998-2001.
Steinke posted 11 doubles, six home runs and 42 RBI during the regular season, but was more potent with his defense. The Red Deer, Alberta native threw out 26 base stealers this season to give him a career total of 78 and a caught stealing percentage of just under .600.
Fitzpatrick was third on the team during the regular season with a .328 batting average, ranking 13th in the GAC. The Red Banks, Mississippi native ranks in the top 10 in the league in runs scored (42), hits (57), RBI (39), triples (five), hit by pitch (12) and stolen bases (12).
The Weevils host Harding in the opening round of the GAC Championship Tournament this weekend at Weevils Field for a best-of-three series. The action gets going on Friday at 3 p.m. Saturday’s game begins at noon.