MAGNOLIA, Ark. – Southern Arkansas is well represented on the 2010 Natural State Baseball All-Arkansas Team released this week, headlined by the Muleriders being named the Arkansas Team of the Year, and junior starting pitcher Hayden Simpson (Magnolia) receiving The Natural (Arkansan of the Year) and Pitcher of the Year accolades and senior third baseman Cannon Lester (El Dorado) awarded as Player of the Year. The team and honors are comprised of all collegiate baseball teams on every level across the state.
As the Arkansas team of the year, SAU was rewarded for its 47-10 season, which included going 16-0 against in-state competition. They finished the season ranked sixth in the final NCAA Division II poll and were within one win of advancing to the College World Series.
Southern Arkansas had five players named to the 16-man All-Arkansas team. Simpson was one of three starting pitchers on the squad, and other than he and Lester at third, junior Logan Williams (Damascus) made the team at first base, senior Andrew Whittington (Texas City, Texas) was honored as the shortstop and junior Pat Johnson (Natchitoches, La.) was named the right fielder.
Junior designated hitter/first baseman Jake Astor (North Liberty, Iowa) and senior starting pitcher Matt Speake (Tyler, Texas) were honorable mention selections.
It's the third consecutive year that Simpson and Lester have been named to the All-Arkansas team and second straight season that both have respectively received pitcher and player of the year accolades. Lester made the team the previous two seasons as the second baseman. Whittington has been named the shortstop the past two years. It also marked the third consecutive season that a Mulerider was honored as player of the year, with former outfielder John Long (Smackover) claiming the title in 2008.
Arkansas Tech skipper Dave Dawson received 2010 Coach of the Year honors and Arkansas Baptist College shortstop Seth Hobbs is the Freshman of the Year.