LITTLE ROCK -
UALR outfielder Sean Bignall
and catcher Blake Johnson
were named First Team All-South Central Region by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) on Monday, while pitcher Chance Cleveland
earned a spot on the All-South Central Region Second Team.
A semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award, Bignall was the leading vote getter in the South Central Region, pacing all players with 160 points. Johnson earned First Team honors at catcher with 155 points, while Cleveland grabbed a spot on the Second Team with 55 points. Bignall and Johnson are now eligible for consideration for the ABCA All-America Team, which will be announced the week of the College World Series.
A 5-8 outfielder, Bignall enjoyed a breakout senior year in 2012, establishing new school records with 18 home runs and 149 total bases. He became the first Trojan to reach 60 runs and 60 RBI in a season, on his way to earning Louisville Slugger Third Team All-America accolades.
A native of Brampton, Ontario, Canada, Bignall ended the regular season ranked fourth in the nation in home runs, fifth in slugging percentage (.696), fifth in total bases and sixth in RBI (64). A First Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection, he leads the league in all four of those categories, as well as runs scored, and ranks fifth in the SBC with a .346 batting average. His 64 RBI place him second on UALR's all-time single-season list, one shy of the school record, while his 60 runs scored are good enough for third all-time at UALR.
He tied the school record for home runs in a game by hitting three in a win over South Dakota State on March 7, while setting a new UALR standard with 14 total bases. He tied another school record by scoring five runs in UALR's 17-8 win over South Alabama on April 13. Bignall was named Sun Belt Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks this season (March 5 and March 12), and ends his career tied for second on UALR's all-time home run chart with 20.
Johnson was a First Team All-Sun Belt selection at catcher after a 2012 season in which he hit .315 and ranked second on the team with 14 doubles and a .533 slugging percentage. The Sachse, Texas-native totaled 30 runs, 33 RBI and six homers over 43 starts behind the plate. He was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list on May 7, an honor given annually to the nation's top catcher, and enjoyed a 12-game hit streak from March 30-April 20 - the longest by a Trojan this season. He started all 30 Sun Belt games for the Trojans, hitting .310 with 10 doubles, five homers, 23 RBI and a .526 slugging percentage against conference opponents, while throwing out a league-high seven base runners in Sun Belt play.
Cleveland ended the regular season with a league-high 98 strikeouts, while tying for the conference lead with nine victories. In his first season at UALR, the Pine Bluff, Ark.-native tied the school record for single-season wins and racked up 98 strikeouts over 91.2 innings of work, while holding opposing hitters to a .244 batting average. Cleveland (9-4) averaged 9.62 strikeouts per nine and issued just 33 walks over his 14 starts for a 2.97 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He had three games with 10-or-more strikeouts on the year, including a season-high 12 strikeouts to lead UALR to a 5-3 win over Troy on March 23. He went 5-4 in league games and led all players with 69 strikeouts over 64.2 innings in conference play. His 98 strikeouts are good enough for second place on UALR's all-time single-season list.
ABCA ALL-SOUTH CENTRAL REGION FIRST TEAM (eligible for All-America)
C - Blake Johnson, UALR (155 points)
1B - Alex Williams, Louisiana Tech (90 points)
2B - Brock Hebert, Southeastern Louisiana (145 points)
3B - Mike Martinez, FIU (110 points)
SS - Hunter Dozier, Stephen F. Austin (130 points)
DH - Anthony Azar, Sam Houston State (105 points)
OF - Sean Bignall, UALR (160 points)
OF - Preston Beck, UT Arlington (105 points)
OF - Justin Guidry, Middle Tennessee (80 points)
OF - Trent Miller, Middle Tennessee (80 points)
SP - Matthew Reckling, Rice (140 points)
SP - Daniel Minor, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (115 points)
SP - Jacob Lee, Arkansas State (110 points)
RP - Stefan Lopez, Southeastern Louisiana (115 points)
ABCA ALL-SOUTH CENTRAL REGION SECOND TEAM
C - Craig Manuel, Rice (40 points)
1B - Joey Rapp, ULM (85 points)
2B - Christian Stringer, Rice (70 points)
3B - Danny Collins, Troy (95 points)
SS - Jeremy Sy, ULM (80 points)
DH - Jeremy Hill, Nicholls (80 points)
OF - Kendall Logan, Jackson State (50 points)
OF - Jeremy Rathjen, Rice (50 points)
OF - Jabari Henry, FIU (45 points)
SP - Lance Day, UT Arlington (60 points)
SP - Quintavious Drains, Jackson State (60 points)
SP - Chance Cleveland, UALR (55 points)
SP - Travis Ballew, Texas State (55 points)
RP - R.J. Alvarez, Florida Atlantic (70 points)