Pittsburg State's battery of pitcher Zac Shoemaker and catcher Nick Brannan received multiple honors on the MIAA's all-conference baseball team, announced Thursday by the league office.
In addition to both receiving first-team recognition, Shoemaker was named the league's Pitcher of the Year, and Brannan was voted co-Player of the Year with Newman first baseman Jenner Steele.
Shoemaker, a graduate student from Aurora, is 8-2 with a 3.76 earned run average in 13 starts. He has allowed 60 hits and 10 walks in 67 innings and registered 94 strikeouts.
"It's cool, getting acknowledged for the work you put in," Shoemaker said. "It's more than just what you see on the field. There are a lot of people behind it ... training staff, coaches, strength coaches, teammates. It's a constant progression of getting better, and getting acknowledged for that is pretty cool."
Brannan, a junior from from San Angelo, Texas, leads the team with his .396 batting average. He also has 48 runs scored, 19 doubles, 15 home runs and 68 runs batted in. He ranks second in the MIAA in RBI, third in doubles, fourth in batting average and seventh in home runs. He set a school record with a 22-game hitting streak between March 14 and April 21.
"Coach (Bob) Fornelli (gave) me a great opportunity to come to Pittsburg and do everything I could," Brannan said. "We worked really hard all offseason and created a chemistry with the teammates here. It's been awesome."
Brannan arrived on campus last fall, and it didn't take long for him to develop chemistry with Shoemaker.
"Without a good catcher, it's hard to be any good on the mound," Shoemaker said. "It's reassuring to say the least. It gives you more freedom to do what you want to do. You trust that he's going to call the right pitches. We've worked well together for sure. He's smart, he knows how to get hitters out. It's trust more than anything."
"I love Zac Shoemaker," Nixon said. "He makes it easy. He makes me a better catcher. He's such a great pitcher. All fall we were working together, and as soon as the spring hit, we were ready to go."
In all, 10 Gorillas received all-conference honors.
Junior shortstop Cade Clemons, sophomore outfielder Karson Coffee and senior starting pitcher Ben Des Rosiers are on the second team. Honorable mention went to junior third baseman Daegan Brady, senior outfielder Brett Daley, sophomore starting pitcher Tanner Leslie, sophomore first baseman Austin Warkins and sophomore relief pitcher Parker Weddle.
Clemons, from Lee's Summit, is batting .329 with 47 runs, 12 doubles, three triples, 17 home runs (third in MIAA) and 46 RBI.
Coffee, from Bentonville, is hitting .349 with 43 runs, 21 doubles (second in MIAA), nine home runs, 43 RBI and 12 stolen bases.
Des Rosiers, from Castle Rock, Colo., is 8-0 with a 4.04 ERA in 13 starts. He has limited opposing hitters to a .209 batting average and logged 72 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings.
Brady, from Topeka, is batting .278 with 32 runs scored eight doubles and 19 RBI.
Daley, from Council Bluffs, Iowa, is hitting .237 with nine doubles, three triples, seven homers, 34 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
Leslie, from Haysville, Kan., has eight starts among 15 appearances and is 3-3 with one save and a 5.17 ERA. He has 44 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings.
Warkins, also from Haysville, is batting .393 with 52 runs, 18 doubles, six homers and 35 RBI.
Weddle, from Kansas City, Mo., has made 17 of his 19 appearances in relief. He is 2-0 with a 3.33 ERA and four saves and has 33 strikeouts in 27 innings.
"Those kids put a lot of hard work into it," Fornelli said. "We take the last three weeks out, we've been a pretty good baseball team. They all deserve those accolades. It's exciting for me because eight of the 10 are back (next season)."