Bears Win Two Specialty Awards, Land Five All-Conference Players
OMAHA, Neb. -- Missouri State junior second baseman Kevin Medrano has earned his third consecutive first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference selection, junior closer Dan Kickham joins him on the first team as the MVC Newcomer of the Year, while pitcher Nick Petree is the league’s Freshman of the Year and is joined by Brock Chaffin and Luke Voit on the all-conference second team as voted on by the league’s coaches and announced Monday at the State Farm MVC Tournament banquet in Omaha, Neb.
Medrano makes the first team for the third time in his career after batting .364 with 14 RBIs in 20 conference games this season. The junior from Lee’s Summit, Mo., is batting .321 for the season with 31 RBIs, 31 runs scored and 13 steals, and is hitting .376 in the 29 games since April 1. He is climbing up several career record lists in 2011 and now ranks sixth in school history in assists (401), eighth in singles (175) and 11th in double plays turned (84).
Kickham is Missouri State’s eighth MVC Newcomer of the Year and first since Chad Mulholland in 2003. The junior from Springfield leads the MVC with 13 saves, tying Shaun Marcum’s 2003 total for the MSU record as well, while posting a 2-2 record, 1.63 ERA and .192 opponent average to go with 23 strikeouts in 27.2 innings. Kickham has allowed no earned runs in 20 of his 23 outings.
Petree is Missouri State’s fifth MVC Freshman of the Year and first since Medrano in 2009. The Clinton, Mo., native took over as the Bears’ Friday night starter March 25 and has an 8-2 record and 2.93 ERA. Petree has set MSU freshman records with eight wins and 89 innings this season while ranking third with 76 strikeouts. He has pitched at least six innings in all 10 starts and recorded two saves in five relief appearances earlier in the season.
Chaffin appears on the second team as a designated hitter with his team-high .336 average to go with six homers and 35 RBIs. The junior has been MSU’s starting DH in 34 games to go with eight starts at first base, where he is perfect in 68 defensive chances. The Stoutland, Mo., native, who transferred from Longview Community College prior to this season, leads MSU with 16 two-out RBIs and is batting .388 with runners in scoring position.
Voit makes the second team as a utility player and has started 29 games at catcher and 19 at first base this season. Voit hit .299 with a team-best three homers and 15 RBIs in MVC games, and his batting .283 with six homers, 33 RBIs and 26 runs scored for the entire season. The sophomore from Wildwood, Mo., swatted a pinch-hit, three-run homer April 10 to complete a comeback victory over Wichita State.
The Bears (31-21, 11-9 MVC) open play at the State Farm MVC Tournament Tuesday at 4 p.m. against fifth-seeded Southern Illinois (22-32, 11-10) at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. The fourth-seeded Bears beat SIU 11-4, lost 11-1 and won 5-4 in the season series, April 16 and 17 in Carbondale, Ill.