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19 Tom Sox Named to All-Conference Teams

A total of 19 Tom Sox players, spanning seasons 2019-24, were named to their respective All-Conference teams this week (beginning May 20). Five of the 19 came from The American, while the remainder were spread out among other conferences near the east coast.

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A total of 19 Tom Sox players, spanning seasons 2019-24, were named to their respective All-Conference teams this week (beginning May 20). Five of the 19 came from The American, while the remainder were spread out among other conferences near the east coast.

 

NCAA DIVISION I

Gathering the highest honors among NCAA Division I players were a pair of 2022 East Carolina stars in Carter Cunningham and Trey Yesavage, who were named the American Conference Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

Cunningham (Tom Sox ’22) arrived at East Carolina in 2022 after playing his first full season at Florida Southwestern, where he was named the Citrus Conference Sophomore of the Year. Throughout his three seasons at East Carolina, he morphed into one of the best players in the nation – raising his batting average from .227 as a sophomore to .396 this season, which leads The American and ranks 20th in Division I. He also ranks among the conference’s leaders in on-base percentage (.490, 1st), slugging percentage (.696, 1st), total bases (144, 1st), runs scored (68, 1st), and RBI (59, 2nd). Despite the incredible power numbers, Cunningham has maintained a positive walk-to-strikeout ratio, walking 31 times to 27 strikeouts on the season.

In addition to being named American Player of the Year, Cunningham was named one of 68 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, given to the best player in college baseball by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). He was also named an All-AAC First Team selection last season and has appeared in the top spot of D1Baseball’s mid-season first base rankings at multiple points this season. In addition to his on-field accolades, he founded Homers that Help, a fund which benefits ECU’s Maynard Children’s Hospital for every home run hit this season. As of May 5, 2024, the fund had raised over $8,000.

Cunningham was an All-Valley League selection with the Tom Sox in 2022, posting team single-season top 5’s in batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage as part of a championship campaign.

 

Like Cunningham, Yesavage (Tom Sox ’22) has put up a historically dominant season en route to earning American Pitcher of the Year honors. Yesavage delivered on the AAC Coaches’ prediction as Preseason Pitcher of the Year, ranking top-5 in the nation in ERA and a number of other statistics. A second-team All-American last season, Yesavage has almost certainly earned himself a spot on the first team this year after posting a .209 ERA which ranks top-5 in all of Division I and a 0.88 WHIP that ranks ninth. His 139 strikeouts rank fourth in the nation, his 11 wins rank third, and his 5.0 hits per game allowed are the sixth-fewest among all D-I pitchers.

This season, he has put up eight double-digit strikeout games and has put up a quality start (6+ IP, 3 or fewer ER) in ten of his 14 starts on the year. In addition to his eye-popping strikeout numbers, he has walked two or fewer batters in all but three starts on the year. Along with Cunningham, Yesavage was named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy. He was also named one of 25 semifinalists for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, given to the best amateur baseball player in America. He has also appeared as a first-round pick on a number of different draft projections, including No. 10 on D1Baseball’s midseason list.

Yesavage was named to the All-Valley League team in 2022 alongside Cunningham and posted a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings for the Tom Sox.

 

Continuing with the East Carolina, Golden Spikes trend is relief pitcher Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman (Tom Sox ’22). Like Yesavage, Lunsford-Shenkman was named to both the American Conference 1st Team List and the Golden Spikes Semifinalist list after becoming one of college baseball’s most dominant relievers. In his 21 games on the year, Lunsford-Shenkman has posted a 1.20 ERA and has struck out 77 batters, which ranks seventh in the conference. His five saves ranks ninth in The American, and he has allowed only six earned runs across his 45 innings.

Lunsford-Shenkman posted a 4.05 ERA across 20 innings for the Tom Sox, en route to winning the 2022 title alongside his formerly mentioned ECU teammates. He posted 25 strikeouts across his nine appearances, which included two starts.

 

2023 Valley League Home Run Derby Champion Derek Williams (Tom Sox ’23) was named a Second Team All-Conference selection in The American as a member of the Wichita State Shockers. Williams has not slowed down since his season in Charlottesville, tying with Cunningham and others for second in AAC home runs (14) and sitting 14th in the conference with a .326 batting average. He gets on-base at an impressive .429 clip and has 13 doubles and a triple to add to the 14 home runs. Williams has six games with 3+ hits on the year and a pair of multi-homer games, the most recent on March 28 against Rice.

 

A number of other Tom Sox D-I players earned first or second-team All-Conference honors, beginning with Florida Gulf Coast’s Davian Garcia (Tom Sox ’23), who was named First Team All-Atlantic Sun. A transfer from Pasco-Hernando State College, Garcia has been a key cog in the pitching staff for the Eagles this year. His 54 innings just fall short of the conference’s innings requirement, but he would lead the league in ERA at 2.83 should he have enough innings. He has excelled in both starting and bullpen roles, starting seven of his 15 appearances and working to a 6-2 record. His 66 strikeouts lead FGCU, and he has allowed the fewest ER on the team among pitchers with 25+ innings.

 

The final Tom Sox First Team selection belongs to Charleston’s Kevin Madden (Tom Sox ’19), the lone rep of the 2019 team. A graduate transfer from South Carolina after originally starting at Virginia Tech, Madden sports a .327 batting average and .949 OPS on the season and has started all but one game this year. Madden is also among the best in doubles (14, T-3rd), home runs (12, 4th), and RBI (45, 4th) on a team which won the CAA Regular Season Championship and placed ten on the All-CAA teams.

 

Beginning the second teamers was Virginia graduate catcher Jacob Ference (Tom Sox ’23), who became well-known to both ‘Sox and Hoos fans for his elite home run-hitting abilities. Ference was named Second Team All-ACC after tying for second on the Hoos (with fellow ‘Sox star Henry Ford) with 17 long balls, 13 of which have come in conference play. For the season, he ranked among the ACC’s top 10 in batting average (.367, 9th), on-base percentage (.476, 7th), and slugging percentage (.769, 4th).

 

Named to the All-Big Ten Second Team was Penn State’s Adam Cecere (Tom Sox ’21), who has used his fifth year with the Nittany Lions after playing four seasons at Wake Forest. Cecere has shown the rare combination of elite power and a great eye, ranking second in the conference in both slugging percentage (.655) and walks per game (0.9). He also leads Penn State in home runs with 15, which is currently tied for fourth in their single-season record book. Of those 15 home runs, nine of them came in Big Ten contests.

 

Another graduate transfer, but this time on the mound, Tyler Horvat (Tom Sox ’22) was named Second Team All-America East for the Bryant Bulldogs, as well as a member of the All-Academic Team. Horvat led the conference in both ERA and walks allowed during conference play, as well as ranking among the best in opponent’s batting average. He tallied 7+ innings in five of his six conference starts prior to a late-April injury and tossed a pair of complete games on the year.

 

Josh Tate (Tom Sox ’23) was Charlottesville’s lone rep on the All-Sun Belt team. Representing Georgia Southern following a transfer from the University of Georgia, Tate raked for the Eagles, putting up a .373 batting average (fifth in the conference) and .481 on-base percentage (sixth). He also continued his dominance on the basepaths from his summer in C’ville, stealing a team-high 25 bases (no other player had more than 12). Tate’s batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored (59), and walks (37, tied) all also led the team.

 

Henry Ford (Tom Sox ’23) was named ACC All-Freshman after putting up one of the best seasons in Virginia freshman history, as well as one of the best seasons by a freshman nationally. Ford ranks among the top 10 of D-I freshmen in batting average (.352, 10th), slugging percentage (.662, 4th), hits (75, T-3rd), home runs (17, 5th), RBI (63, 2nd), and runs scored (58, T-7th). He set UVA freshman records in home runs (17) and RBI (63) and hit three home runs in a game against No. 10 North Carolina, becoming the first Virginia player with a 3+home run game since 2002.

Ford, a Charlottesville native, set the Tom Sox single-season home run record with seven last season despite missing ⅓ of the season with a hand injury.

 

Chase Centala (Tom Sox ’21) was named a Big 12 Honorable Mention selection with the UCF Knights. Centala, who began his career at Florida, sits fifth in the conference with seven saves and was named to the NCBWA Midseason Stopper of the Year Watch List.

 

A trio of incoming 2024 Tom Sox also received all-conference honors. Garnering the highest honors was George Washington catcher/DH Robbie Lavey, who was named Second Team All-Atlantic 10 in addition to making the A-10 All-Freshman team. On the year, Lavey has a .325 batting average, which ranks third on the team, and collected 16 multi-hit games across his 46 played as a freshman.

Adding onto the East Carolina awards party, pitcher Ethan Norby (brother of former American Player of the Year, ECU Pirate Connor Norby) was named AAC All-Freshman after posting a 3.45 ERA across 16 appearances, eight of which were starts. He also posted 48 strikeouts to only 16 walks on the year.

Auburn’s Cade Belyeu was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. A talented freshman who emerged as an everyday starter in early April, Belyeu has tallied 20 RBI in 38 games (26 starts) and hit eight home runs to go along with a 1.058 OPS and .284 batting average. He hit home runs in four of his final five games of the season and closed his year on a five-game hit streak in series wins against Missouri and rival Alabama.

 

NJCAA (JUNIOR COLLEGE) &

A number of former Tom Sox now playing for both Florida Southwestern (NJCAA DI) and Pasco-Hernando State College (NJCAA DII) earned All-Conference and All-State honors.

Salvy Alvarez (Tom Sox ’23) was named the Citrus Conference and FCSAA Defensive Player of the Year after an outstanding year behind the dish, in addition to being named 2nd team All-Conference. As FSW’s starting catcher, Alvarez caught 28% of runners stealing (16 of 42) and made just one error in 382 chances on the year.

 

Justin Thomas (Tom Sox ’23) was named First Team All-FSCAA and All-Conference after an outstanding season at the plate. He led the state of Florida with 21 doubles, and ranked among the state’s top 10 in slugging, batting average, home runs, and stolen bases.

 

FSW’s Landen Burch (Tom Sox ’23) was named Second Team All-Citrus Conference after moving into the Thursday starter role mid-season. Burch finished top 10 in the conference in both ERA (3.56) and strikeouts (85), and ranked second on the team with 73.1 innings pitched.

 

Chris Arroyo (Tom Sox ’23) was named FCSAA D-II Player of the Year and Sun-Lakes Conference Player of the Year after dominating opponents at the plate and on the mound. As a two-way player for Head Coach Lyndon Coleman at Pasco-Hernando State College, Arroyo led the state with a .401 batting average, .816 slugging percentage, and 17 home runs. He additionally posted 47 RBI and 56 runs scored, both of which rank among the best in the state. On the mound, he posted a 4-4 record, 3.72 ERA, and five complete games. He announced his commitment to the University of Virginia earlier this month.

 

In addition to Arroyo, 2023 Tom Sox Head Coach Lyndon Coleman was named FCSAA Coach of the Year after winning the Sun-Lakes Conference.

 

The Big West and Mountain West had not announced their awards at the time of writing. If any Tom Sox players are named award winners in those conferences, this article will be updated on tomsox.org.

* All statistics through games on May 19, 2024.

& Junior college statistics & honors may be incomplete

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