LITTLE ROCK -
UALR senior Travis Henke
was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 22nd Round of the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday. The 6-6 right-handed pitcher was UALR's Friday night starter in 2011, helping lead the Trojans to the school's first-ever Sun Belt Tournament championship and NCAA Regional appearance.
"I'm very happy for Travis and his family," said UALR head coach Scott Norwood. "He was instrumental in the success we had this season. I think he really helped his draft stock with the way he performed at the Sun Belt Tournament and the NCAA Regional."
Henke made 18 appearances with 14 starts as a senior in 2011, leading the Trojans in innings pitched (90.0), strikeouts (61) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.2). The Jefferson City, Mo.-native went 1-5 on the year with a 5.20 earned run average, with the UALR offense averaging just 3.7 runs per game over his 14 starts. He went 7.0 innings in a 2-1 loss to then-No. 2 Oklahoma on March 12, holding the Sooners to six hits and one run, with five strikeouts and zero walks. He followed that up with a complete-game shutout in a 1-0 victory over Arkansas State on March 19, limiting the Red Wolves to six hits while racking up six strikeouts against no walks.
At the Sun Belt Tournament, Henke set the tone for UALR's championship run by holding No. 1-seed Troy to seven hits and two runs with seven strikeouts over 8.0 innings to lead UALR to a 4-2 victory on May 25. Henke recorded saves in wins over Stephen F. Austin (Feb. 20) and IPFW (March 4) before joining the starting rotation, and matched his career high with eight strikeouts in a no decision against ULM on May 6.
"I've been preparing for this and dreaming about it since high school. It's definitely a lifetime accomplishment to have this dream finally come true," said Henke. "I was pretty surprised to go where I was taken. I wasn't expecting to go as early as I did. I've talked to all the coaches and they're all pretty excited."
Henke made a total of 38 appearances with 15 starts in his two seasons at UALR, ending his collegiate career with a 4-8 record, three saves, a 5.54 ERA and 95 strikeouts over 130.0 innings. He went 3-3 with one save as a junior in 2010, combining on a 5-0 shutout of UAPB (2/19/10) by striking out a season-high eight batters over 3.2 shutout frames.
Henke came to UALR from Jefferson College, where he went 9-1 with a 3.92 ERA over two seasons while racking up 98 strikeouts in 91 innings. A prep standout at Blair Oaks High School, Henke was twice named Missouri 2A Pitcher of the Year and was a four-time All-State selection while leading the Falcons to state titles in 2006 and 2007.
The selection of Henke by the Washington Nationals (No. 667 overall) marks the sixth-consecutive season a UALR player has been taken in the MLB Draft.