|Smith Earns A-10 Pitcher of the Year, Barnette Named Top Rookie|
Redshirt junior Andrew Smith of Charlotte was honored as the Atlantic 10 Conference's Baseball Pitcher of the Year, while fellow 49er teammate Tyler Barnette was named A-10 Rookie of the Year, in voting conducted among the league's head coaches. Additionally, Xavier first baseman Ben Thomas has been named the A-10 Player of the Year, and Rhode Island's Jim Foster was tabbed Coach of the Year.
Charlotte's Cory Tilton was recognized as the Student-Athlete of the Year, according to a vote of the league's sports information directors.
Charlotte has had a player named to an All-League team for 29 straight seasons.
Smith has posted a 1.99 ERA and 8-4 overall record in his 95.0 innings of work, including 83 strikeouts and one complete-game shutout in his 14 starts. Additionally, he has posted an A-10 low 1.38 ERA in his eight conference starts, allowing just nine earned runs with 48 strikeouts in his 58.2 innings pitched.
Smith is Charlotte's second A-10 Pitcher of the Year, joining former All-American Adam Mills in that feat. He is the third Niner to capture a league's top pitching honor, as former 49er John Maine was also selected as Pitcher of the Year for Conference USA. Charlotte has earned three Player of the year honors, with former pitcher Tim Collie taking Player of the Year from the Metro Conference, James Matan earning Conference USA Player of the Year in 1998 and Chris Taylor winning A-10 Player of the Year in 2008.
Thomas, a three-time All-Conference selection, posted an impressive .352 average at the plate during his senior season, including 41 runs scored, 16 doubles, 14 homers and 57 RBI. The Columbus, Ohio native led the A-10 in RBI (31) and total bases (74) during Conference play, while ranking second in the league in slugging percentage (.634), RBI and home runs overall.
Thomas and Smith are joined on the first-team by Charlotte's Ross Steedley; Burny Mitchem and Brian Blasik of Dayton; George Washington's Brendon Kelliher; Matt Gedman of Massachusetts; La Salle's Pat Christensen; Rhode Island's Greg Annarummo; Billy Barber of Richmond; along with Seth Willoughby and John McCambridge of Xavier.
The All-Conference second-team consists of Charlotte's Justin Wilson; Dayton's C.J. Gillman; Tim Swatek of Fordham; Kevin Fuqua of La Salle; Rhode Island's Jeff Cammans, Mike LeBel and Stephen Peterson; Chris Cowell and Mike Mergenthaler of Richmond; St. Bonaventure's Jason Radwan; Greg Kumpel of Saint Joseph's; and Temple's Steve Nikorak.
Barnette closed out the regular season with his A-10-best 1.98, including a stellar 8-1 mark on the mound, allowing just 18 earned runs and racking up 53 strikeouts in his 81.2 innings of work. The four-time A-10 Rookie of the Week, Barnette registered on complete-game this season and had a hand in two combined shutouts. Barnette joins Aaron Bray and Corey Shaylor as the other two A-10 Rookie of the Year Award winners from Charlotte.
Barnette is joined on the All-Rookie team by Dayton's Mel Skochdopole; Fordham's Chris Pike and Tim Swatek; Dominic Sgroi of La Salle; Rhode Island's Jeff Roy; Richmond's Mike Small; along with Vinny Nittoli and Brian Bruening of Xavier.
Tilton, one of 10 Finalists for the 2011 Baseball Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, became the fourth player in 49er history to register 200 hits, 150 runs and 70 stolen bases for his career. He led the A-10 during the regular season and ranked among the top 10 nationally in stolen bases (31). Starting all 52 of Charlotte's games in 2011, Tilton registered a .300 average with 45 runs scored, 12 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 42 RBI. The Cary, N.C., native owns a 3.81 cumulative grade-point average, while majoring in finance. Tilton is the second 49ers named Baseball Student-Athlete of the Year, adding his name along side Mike Ambrose.
Tilton is joined on the Academic All-Conference team by teammates Bryan Hamilton and Shane Basen; along with Bryce Lahrman of Dayton; La Salle's Pat Christensen and Brendan Norton; Rhode Island's Mike LeBel; Billy Urban of St. Bonaventure; Temple's Ryan Ferguson; and John McCambridge of Xavier.
Charlotte earned its fourth Atlantic 10 Baseball regular-season title in the past five seasons and earned a bye and the top seed in the Atlantic 10 Baseball Championships, taking place this week in Camden, N.J. at Campbell's Field. Charlotte will play in Thursday's noon game and will face the winner of the Wednesday noon game between fourth-seeded Xavier and fifth-seeded Richmond.