COLUMBUS, GA - Francis Marion University swept all of the major awards at the 2011 Peach Belt Conference Baseball Tournament awards banquet, the first time in the league’s history that one school garnered all four major awards. Four Patriots also gained All-Conference recognition.
FMU head coach Art Inabinet was named the Coach of the Year, while sophomore right-hander Don Sandifer was named the Pitcher of the Year, third baseman Michael Wilson was selected as the Freshman of the Year, and junior center fielder Buddy Sosnoskie shared the Player of the Year award. Georgia College senior outfielder Shawn Ward was also named the Co-Player of the Year.
Sosnoskie, Sandifer, and senior first baseman Preston Shuey were named to the PBC’s first-team All-Conference squad, while freshman right-handed pitcher Jeffrey Stoner was a second-team All-PBC choice.
It is the first time a Patriot has received the Coach of the Year or Player of the Year awards. An FMU hurler has twice gained the Pitcher of the Year award: righty Dylan Owen in 2006 and 2007. It is the fifth time in the past seven years that a Patriot has earned the Freshman of the Year award, including Sandifer last season and Shuey in 2008.
Inabinet has guided Francis Marion to a 36-12 record, a No. 9 national ranking, and the Peach Belt regular-season championship and the resulting top seed in the PBC Tournament that begins Sunday. Inabinet also captured his 450th career win during the 2011 season. This after FMU lost 17 seniors from last year’s squad that reached the championship game of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Tournament. Francis Marion was picked to finish third in the PBC’s pre-season coaches’ poll.
Sosnoskie (Statesville, NC) leads the conference in hitting (.418) and triples (7), while owning a 20-game hitting streak. He hit safely in 21 of 24 PBC contests this year, and managed to reach base safely in 46 of the team’s 48 games. He has homered once, driven in 41 runs and has a .495 on-base percentage and a .576 slugging percentage. He leads the team in stolen bases (8) and has also patrolled the outfield nearly flawlessly, registering 107 putouts, five assists, and committing only one error.
Sandifer (Bamberg, SC) leads the conference in wins (10-2 record) and opponents’ batting average against (.172), while ranking second in earned run average (1.57). He has taken a no-hitter into the fifth inning in five of his 12 starts, including his Feb. 19 no-hitter against Winston-Salem State University. In 91.2 innings pitched, Sandifer has fanned 92 batters and walked only 10, while also recording six complete games and three shutouts.
Wilson (Florence, SC) opened his collegiate career by hitting in 16 straight games. He ended the regular season with a .381 average and a .476 on-base percentage from the lead-off spot in the line-up. He leads the Peach Belt in runs scored (61) and has eight doubles, six triples, and 25 RBIs. He also played good defense at the hot corner, with only nine errors in 106 fielding chances.
Shuey (Charlotte, NC) owns a .307 batting average with 34 runs scored, nine doubles, and a team-leading seven home runs and 58 RBIs (second-best in the PBC). He has committed only four errors for a .991 fielding percentage and he is second on the NCAA Division II career list for fielding putouts. A four-year stalwart at first base, he owns the FMU career record for RBIs with 204.
Stoner (Martinez, GA) posted a perfect 7-0 record in 13 appearances with a 2.49 ERA. He has struck out 45 batters while walking only 14 in 65 innings and opponents are hitting only .219 against him.
Francis Marion will face Augusta State University, the West Division’s fourth seed, at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday (May 8) in the opening round of the PBC Tournament.