Four Bears Earn CoSIDA Academic All-District Honors
May 1, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Four Missouri State Bears were selected for the 2014 Capital One Academic All-District 6 Baseball Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Thursday. Senior first baseman Conor Smith, as well as junior hurlers Tyler Burgess and Zach Merciez and junior second baseman Eric Cheray were chosen for the team, which honors the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom.
A 2013 MVC Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award winner and a three-time MVC Honor Roll member, Smith has started 30 of MSU's 41 games at first base this season, posting a .993 fielding percentage and career highs of seven doubles, two homers and 15 RBIs to date. The Ballwin, Mo., product, who ranks sixth on Bears' career fielding percentage chart (.990), recorded at least one hit or one RBI in each of MSU's first seven games of the season. Smith, who will graduate from MSU later this month, maintains a 3.63 GPA as a cell and molecular biology major with minors in chemistry and French.
Burgess has logged eight scoreless outings in 12 appearances this season, including finishing off his eighth and ninth combined shutouts as a Bear vs. Saint Louis and Missouri. The Webb City, Mo., native ranks third on the Bears' career saves list (14) and 14th on the NCAA's Division I active list for hits allowed/nine innings pitched (6.13). The left-hander was an MVC Scholar-Athlete honorable mention selection last spring after earning First-Team All-MVC, MVC Freshman of the Year and NCBWA Freshman All-America honors in 2012. Burgess, who expects to graduate in December with a bachelor's degree in general business, maintains a 3.40 GPA.
Cheray has been one of the Bears' most consistent performers at the plate and in the field throughout the 2014 campaign, ranking among the MVC's individual leaders in batting (.327), hits (51), triples (2), walks (26) and on-base percentage (.422). The Topeka, Kan., product posted a career-long 12-game hit streak, March 26-April 18 and has recorded a team-high nine multi-RBI games to go along with 14 multi-hit efforts as a junior. He registered a career-high four hits vs. Northern Illinois and currently ranks second on MSU's all-time list for sacrifice bunts (23), and eighth and ninth on the Bears' career charts for assists (404) and walks (90), respectively. A 2013 First-Team All-MVC and MVC Scholar-Athlete selection, Cheray has a 3.40 GPA as a psychology major with a minor in creative writing.
Merciez has enjoyed a breakthrough junior campaign as one of the Bears' top threats out of the bullpen. The right-hander has a team-leading 1.93 earned run average and a 1-1 mound mark over 16 relief appearances and has limited the opposition to a .171 batting average in league play to rank second among all Valley pitchers. A native of Bartlesville, Okla., Merciez worked 10.2 innings over nine outings without allowing an earned run to start the 2014 season and earned his first career victory in his 44th mound appearance April 11 at Bradley. A 2012 MVC Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award winner and a two-time MVC Honor Roll selectee, Merciez maintains a 3.47 GPA as an exercise and movement science major.
Selected by the voting membership of CoSIDA, the Capital One Academic All-District teams are divided into eight geographic districts across the United States and Canada. Nominees must have maintained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30 for at least one academic year at his or her current institution and have participated in at least 50 percent of his or her team's games. Academic All-District® honorees advance to the Capital One Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.
The Bears (19-22, 6-6 MVC) resume Missouri Valley Conference play with a three-game set at Dallas Baptist this weekend, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. contest Friday (May 2) at Horner Ballpark in Dallas.