May 28, 2009
CLEMSON, S.C. - A trio of Alabama baseball players – Kent Matthes, Austin Hyatt and Jake Smith – were named to the 2009 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper/Louisville Slugger All-American team on Thursday, according to long-time publisher and college baseball historian Lou Pavlovich, Jr.
Matthes was named to the 17-man first team squad, while Hyatt and Smith were both third team selections.
“All three players had tremendous years for us and are very deserving of this honor,” Alabama head coach Jim Wells said on the eve of the Tide’s 20th NCAA Regional appearance. “Matthes had an incredible year on offense with all the home runs and Hyatt set the tone each weekend as our Friday night starter. Smith had a great year and we will miss his presence in the lineup after his injury. It was an unfortunate injury, but he is a very tough competitor.”
Matthes was named the 2009 SEC Player of the Year and is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy, presented to the top player in college baseball.
The Orlando, Fla., native was the unanimous SEC Player of the Year, after hitting .365 with a 28 home runs and 81 RBI for the Crimson Tide this season. He led the SEC in home runs, RBI, total bases (174) and slugging percentage (.883). He was also third in runs scored (65) and sixth in hitting this season.
Matthes set the Alabama single-season record with 28 home runs, which ties him for the national home run lead with Middle Tennessee State’s Bryce Brentz. Matthes broke the school record with his 28th home run against South Carolina on May 20 at the SEC Tournament. He slugged his 27th home run of the season in the Tide’s regular season finale at Auburn on May 16 to tie Doug Duke’s single-season home run record set in 1986.
He has four multi-home run games and one walk-off home run this season. In addition, 16 of his 28 home runs have tied the game or given Alabama the lead, including 10 go-ahead home runs. He also has nine game-winning RBI.
Hyatt posted an 8-2 record and 3.14 ERA in 14 starts this season. Alabama was 9-5 in his 14 starts and he left with the lead in 13 of the 14 games. He led the SEC in innings pitched (100 1/3) and ranked second in ERA (3.14), third in opponents batting average (.220) and wins (8) and ninth in strikeouts (86).
In SEC play, the Marietta, Ga., native led the league in innings pitched (78 1/3) and starts (10) and ranked third in ERA (3.22), opponents average (.210) and fewest walks (9). He was also fourth in wins (5) and eighth in strikeouts (69).
Smith, who suffered a season-ending injury at the SEC Tournament, was having his best season with the Crimson Tide. The junior is was hitting .359 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 49 games. He is fifth in the SEC in slugging (.728), sixth in total bases (142), eighth in home runs (18) and batting average (.359). In SEC play, he is fourth in slugging (.687), sixth in home runs (9) and eighth in doubles (9).
Smith was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team for the second year in a row after making only five errors (.955) in 112 chances at third base.