BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Eastern Kentucky University junior third baseman Jayson Langfels has been named the Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Co-Player of the Year along with Morehead State senior shortstop Drew Lee in a vote of conference head baseball coaches. Langfels won the OVC batting crown with a .441 batting average and led the country with 1.67 RBI per game in 2009.
The dynamic Langfels was one of only two sophomores to be named first team All-OVC last season after he led the Colonels in batting average, home runs (12), RBI (72), total bases (136) and slugging percentage (.800). He also possesses great speed, as evidenced by his six triples and 15 stolen bases, and a propensity to deliver in clutch situations, as evidenced by his two walk-off jobs, one which came at home against in-state rival Western Kentucky.
The Lexington native was named a preseason All-American by ping!baseball.com earlier this winter.
Langfels is the only Colonel represented on the Preseason All-OVC team. Murray State led the way with four selections to the team while Jacksonville State had three picks. Returning players who were first team selections at the end of last season were automatic picks for this year’s team.
Murray State senior Chris Craycraft and Eastern Illinois junior Josh Mueller were tabbed OVC Preseason Co-Pitchers of the Year.
Colonels Picked to Finish Sixth in the OVC
The EKU baseball team has been picked by league head coaches to finish sixth out of nine OVC teams in 2010. The top six teams in the conference qualify for the OVC Tournament at the end of the regular season.
The Colonels were 27-24 in 2009 under then-first year head coach Jason Stein and finished in seventh place, subsequently being edged out of the OVC tournament by Jacksonville State due to a tiebreaker.
However, EKU returns six of nine starters to a lineup that was 10th in the country in scoring (9.2 runs per game) and batting average (.345) a year ago. Langfels highlights that group, but he is joined by 2009 second team All-OVC selections Anthony Ottrando and Richie Rodriguez. Ottrando is a senior first baseman who batted .340 last year and was second on the team with eight home runs and 50 RBI. Rodriguez is a sophomore shortstop who was the only the freshman to be named All-OVC after he batted .302 and was second on the team in runs scored (52) and doubles (15). He was also the only Colonel to start all 51 games, and he did so at one of the most important positions on the field.
2009 OVC All-Freshman team members Michael Garcia (.311 batting average, five home runs) and Jacob Daniel (.361 batting average, 40 runs, 30 RBI) will add depth to the explosive Colonel lineup.
Junior lefthander Paul Duncan led EKU in wins (seven), games started (12), complete games (four), innings pitched (76.1) and was second in strikeouts (51) in 2009, and he will anchor a Colonel pitching staff in 2010 that features several new arms.
Junior college transfer Ryne Purcell will serve as the staff’s closer, a role that the Colonels filled by committee last season.
The overall voting in the preseason poll was close as three different teams received first-place votes. Eastern Illinois garnered three first-place votes and 59 total points in being picked the favorites. Jacksonville State got the most first-place vote (4), but finished three points (56) behind Eastern Illinois in being picked second overall. Tennessee Tech, last year’s OVC Tournament Champions, picked up the other two first-place votes and finished third in the predicted order of finish with 51 points. Murray State was picked fourth (43), followed by Morehead State (33), EKU (26), Southeast Missouri (25), Austin Peay (22) and UT Martin (9).
The Colonels open their season with a three game series at Western Carolina from Feb. 26-28.
The 62nd season of OVC baseball will get underway on Friday, Feb. 19 with the first weekend of league play being held March 27-28. The season will culminate with the 2010 OVC Tournament which will be held for the first time at Pringles Park in Jackson, Tenn. Pringles Park is the home of the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. The tournament runs May 26-30.