BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Arkansas sophomore pitcher DJ Baxendale, freshman infielder Dominic Ficociello and junior catcher James McCann each earned All-Southeastern Conference honors, as voted on by the league coaches and announced on Tuesday morning.
McCann was recognized as the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, while Baxendale was named to the All-SEC Second Team. Ficociello was selected for the All-SEC Freshman Team and the All-SEC Defensive Team.
Hailing from Santa Barbara, Calif., McCann is the second Razorback to be named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, joining Brady Toops, who received the award in 2004. A 2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selection, McCann currently has a 3.96 cumulative grade point average, while pursuing a degree in communication. McCann, who was named to the 2009-10 spring SEC Academic Honor Roll, has finished four semesters with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
On the field, the junior catcher is considered one of the best defensive backstops in college baseball, committing just four errors and throwing out 15 would-be base stealers during the 2011 season. A semifinalist for the 2011 Johnny Bench Award, McCann currently ranks second on the team with a .309 batting average to go along with six homers and 29 RBI. McCann has also been effective on the base paths, stealing nine bases this season.
A native of Jacksonville, Ark., Baxendale has been the staff ace for the Razorbacks in 2011. Seeing time in both the starting rotation and the bullpen, the sophomore right hander has compiled an 8-2 record with three saves and a 1.62 ERA in 17 appearances, including 10 starts. He currently ranks second in the SEC in ERA, tied for fifth in wins and eight in opponent batting average, holding opposing hitters to a .227 average.
In conference games, most of Baxendale’s appearances have been starts, pitching in 10 games, with eight of those being starts. Baxendale has posted a 4-2 record with one save and a 2.25 ERA in league contests. Three of Baxendale’s four conference wins came against the SEC Co-Champions as he defeated Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. In those three wins, Baxendale bested the staff ace for each team, besting Hudson Randall from Florida, Michael Roth from South Carolina and Sonny Gray from Vanderbilt. Baxendale showed his versatility in the season’s final weekend, allowing just two runs in 8.1 innings in a start last Thursday against Ole Miss. Two days later, the right hander came out of the bullpen and pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the second game of a doubleheader against the Rebels, picking up the save and clinching the Western Division title for the Razorbacks.
Ficociello is the first Arkansas freshman to be selected to the All-SEC Freshman Team since Dallas Keuchel in 2007. A freshman infielder from Fullerton, Calif., Ficociello has been one of the top freshman hitters in the SEC this season. Ficociello closed the regular season hitting a team-best .349 with four homers and a team-leading 47 RBI in 53 games, with 51 starts. Ficociello also leads the Razorbacks in hits (67), doubles (15), total bases (96) and slugging percentage (.500). A two-time SEC Freshman of the Week honoree during the season, Ficociello has a team-leading 18 multi-hit games and 14 multi-RBI performances.
Ficociello started 29 of Arkansas’ 30 conference games, ranking second on the team with a .314 batting average and also hitting two homers with 18 RBI. Ficociello recorded eight multi-hit games in conference play, including a pair of four-hit games and one three-hit game.
Ficociello was also recognized for his defensive ability, being selected as the first baseman for the All-SEC Defensive Team. He’s the first Razorback player to be picked for the SEC All-Defensive Team since the league started naming the team in 2008. Splitting time between first and third during the season, Ficociello posted a .969 fielding percentage during the regular season, committing just 10 errors in 322 chances. Of his 10 errors, only four came in league play, as the freshman infielder recorded a .983 fielding percentage, committing just four errors in a team-leading 229 chances.
Florida’s Mike Zunino was selected as the league’s Player of the Year. Vanderbilt’s Grayson Garvin was selected as the SEC Pitcher of the Year, while fellow Commodore Tony Kemp was named as the SEC Freshman of the Year. South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner was picked as the conference’s Coach of the Year.
Arkansas, the SEC Western Division champions and the number two seed in this week’s SEC Tournament, opens postseason play on Wednesday, facing seventh-seed Alabama at 9:30 a.m. at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. Wednesday’s game will be televised on CSS and will also be available on CST.
For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
2011 All-SEC AwardsSEC Player of the Year: Mike Zunino, FloridaSEC Pitcher of the Year: Grayson Garvin, VanderbiltSEC Freshman of the Year: Tony Kemp, VanderbiltSEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year: James McCann, ArkansasSEC Coach of the Year: Ray Tanner, South Carolina
First Team1B – Aaron Westlake, Vanderbilt2B – Scott Wingo, South Carolina3B – Thomas McCarthy, KentuckySS – Casey McElroy, AuburnC – Mike Zunino, FloridaOF – Mikie Mahtook, LSUOF – Preston Tucker, FloridaOF – Tony Kemp, VanderbiltDH – Brian Johnson, FloridaP – Grayson Garvin, VanderbiltP – Michael Roth, South CarolinaRP – Matt Price, South Carolina
Second Team1B – Christian Walker, South Carolina2B – Josh Adams, Florida2B – Alex Yarbrough, Ole Miss3B – Jason Esposito, VanderbiltSS – Nolan Fontana, FloridaC – Tony Caldwell, AuburnOF – Taylor Dugas, AlabamaOF – Mason Katz, LSUOF – Chad Wright, KentuckyDH – Conrad Gregor, VanderbiltP – DJ Baxendale, ArkansasP – Hudson Randall, FloridaP – Sonny Gray, VanderbiltP – Alex Meyer, KentuckyRP – Caleb Reed, Mississippi State
Freshman Team1B – Dominic Ficociello, Arkansas2B – JaCoby Jones, LSU3B – Zack Powers, FloridaSS – Adam Frazier, Mississippi StateC – Ty Ross, LSUOF – Tony Kemp, VanderbiltOF – C.T. Bradford, Mississippi StateOF – Andrew Toles, TennesseeDH – Conrad Gregor, VanderbiltP – Karsten Whitson, FloridaP – Forrest Koumas, South CarolinaRP – Kevin Ziomek, Vanderbilt
All Defensive TeamP – Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt1B – Dominic Ficociello, Arkansas1B – Christian Walker, South Carolina2B – Scott Wingo, South CarolinaSS – Nolan Fontana, Florida3B – Jason Esposito, VanderbiltC – Mike Zunino, FloridaOF – Taylor Dugas, AlabamaOF – Mikie Mahtook, LSUOF – Zach Cone, GeorgiaOF – Jackie Bradley, Jr., South Carolina