BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Scott Wilcox, Regan Flaherty and Ian Tompkins all represent WKU Baseball on the 2014 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team and the Hilltoppers have been picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches’ poll, the league announced Monday.
Wilcox, a senior, was selected as the lone utility player on the team while Tompkins was the only relief pitcher named to the squad. Flaherty, also a senior, was one of three outfielders selected. WKU joined preseason favorite Louisiana-Lafayette as the only teams with multiple players named to the Preseason All-SBC Team.
Wilcox’s utility selection comes on the heels of starting a combined 124 games at all four infield positions over the past three seasons. Specializing as a middle infielder, Wilcox led the Hilltoppers in hits (77), doubles (16) and triples (2) in 2013 while ranking behind First-Team All-SBC first baseman Ryan Huck in batting average (.326), runs scored (40), on base percentage (.401) and total bases (97). Wilcox led the Hilltoppers with 23 multiple-hit games in 2013 and has 38 multiple-hit performances the past two seasons, including 11 games with three-hits or more.
Defensively, Wilcox paced WKU with 150 assists and helped turn 31 of WKU’s 42 double-plays in 2013. Wilcox was also named to the All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team as a utility player following the 2012 season. He enters 2014 with 117 consecutive starts.
Flaherty gets a nod in the outfield after a productive season at the plate and nearly flawless fielding in 2013. He ranked among the WKU leaders in virtually every offensive category, including doubles (16), RBI (36) and hits (68). He boasted a .390 slugging percentage, .288 batting average and had 20 multiple-hit performances from the middle of the lineup. Flaherty successfully advanced runners more than any Hilltopper at a .486 clip, advancing 71 runners in 146 opportunities. Defensively, Flaherty led all WKU outfielders with 130 putouts and a fielding percentage of .985.
A junior left-handed pitcher, Tompkins fills the relief role for the conference after a dominant sophomore campaign. Tompkins ranked second on the team with 59 strikeouts despite throwing just 35.1 innings. He boasted the lowest ERA on the team at 2.29 and led the team with 15.03 strikeouts per nine innings and five pickoffs while ranking second in appearances (25), games finished (14), wins (4) and saves (4). His pickoff move was one the best in the Sun Belt, as his five batters picked off ranked third in the league. Tompkins held opponents hitless on 13 occasions, scoreless 15 times and struck out at least three batters in 10 of his appearances.
Tompkins was near untouchable in 2013, holding opponents to 17 hits in 119 at bats (.142) and surrendering no earned runs in 19 of 25 appearances, including each of the last seven games of the season. In conference play, Tompkins limited batters to a .155 clip with 27 strikeouts at the plate with nine hits surrendered in 58 batters faced.
Louisiana-Lafayette was a near unanimous pick by the coaches to win the Sun Belt Conference, receiving eight of 10 first-place votes. The Hilltoppers were picked to finish sixth with 45 points behind Louisiana-Lafayette (98), South Alabama (82), Troy (77), Texas State (57) and UT Arlington (48). WKU was picked to finish seventh in 2013 and either led or held a share of the conference lead for the first six weeks of the season before finishing fifth overall.