Hawks dominate all-WJCAC team

The Howard College Hawks put a bow on their 2011 baseball season by placing several players on the all-conference and all-region teams.Howard finished the seasaon with a 46-13 record and their third straight Western Junior College Athletic Conference title. The Hawks narrowly missed making their third trip to the national junior college World Series, losing to Grayson in the championship game of the Region V baseball tournament.Along with the head coach, five Howard players were named to the all-WJCAC team.Left fielder Tyler Collins, who was among the nation's JUCO leaders in home runs, RBI and batting average all season, was named the conference's most valuable player. This season, Collins put up some almost unbelievable numbers, including a .488 batting average, .949 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .561. In addition, he hit 19 home runs, 57 extra-base hits and drove in 82 runs.Howard's Michael Franco was named the WJCAC's most valuable pitcher. Franco ended the season with a 10-2 record and an ERA of 2.84 while limiting opponents to a .224 batting average. He struck out 88 batters while walking 31 and allowing only 25 earned runs all season.Joining Collins and Franco on the WJCAC first team were infielder Paul Hendrix, outfielder Nathan Burns and designated hitter Landon Steinhagen. Hendrix sported a .379 batting average while driving in 42 runs, Burns had a batting average of .419 and clubbed 12 home runs, and Steinhagen batted .463 while driving in 74 runs, second only to Collins.Hawks receiving honorable mention recognition on the all-WJCAC team included catcher Rick Stover, pitchers Derrick Bleeker, Austin Blunt, Connor Sadzeck, Nick Sawyer and Josh Walker, infielders Tony Calhoun, Chase Durham and Brendan McCurry and outfielder Jordan Allen.Additionally, Head Coach Britt Smith received coach of the year honors in the conference. Under his tutelage, the Hawks easily won the WJCAC for the third year in a row, earning a 26-6 league mark.Collins, Franco and Steinhagen received additional postseason honors, being named to the Region V All-Tournament team.