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WT's Amaro named LSC Player of the Year: 11 Buffs earn All-Conference honors

Prior to the start of the 2018 Lone Star Conference Baseball Championship, the annual Lone Star Conference all-league awards were announced Wednesday evening at the Jack B. Kelley Student Center in Legacy hall on the campus of West Texas A&M University.  WT senior Luis Amaro was named LSC Player of the Year, while the WT baseball coaching staff was awarded as Coaching Staff of the Year.  WT had 11 total players recognized and a league-best six, first team selections.  Junior designated hitter Christian Loya earned LSC All-Academic honors.

Amaro, a native of Roselle Park, N.J., became the third Buff to earn the prestigious honor as Travis Denson was named South Division Player of the Year in 2009 and Tim DuBrule earned the honor in 1997.  This is the first year the league has gone to the Coaching Staff of the Year as head coach Matt Vanderburg, Associate Head Coach Cory Hall and Assistant Coaches Shawn Neale and Trace Hansen comprise the staff.  Vanderburg won Co-Coach of the Year honors in 2015 and former head coach Mark Jones earned the honor for the South Division in 2006.

Pitcher of the Year went to Tarleton State's Nathan Hickey, while Texas A&M-Kingsville's Tyler Flores earned Freshman of the Year honors rounding out the specialty awards.

For the Buffs, junior Tag Baxter earned first team honors at catcher, while junior starters Darin Cook and Joe Corbett each were named first team, along with Amaro and senior outfielders Bodie Bryan and Nick Canas.  WT had one second team honoree in senior outfielder Jimmy Cubillos and three honorable mention selections in junior relievers Dominic Yearego and Braden Baker, along with junior designated hitter Christian Loya and freshman second baseman Tommy Williams.

Amaro, Cubillos and Williams all were named to the All-Defensive Team, recognizing the top defensive players in the league as voted on by the league's head coaches.  Cubillos also earned all-defensive honors last season in the inaugural season of the all-defensive team.

For the season, Amaro is hitting .348 in 49 starts with 55 hits in 158 at bats, while scoring 53 runs with a team-high 17 doubles, and 14 home runs.  Amaro has driven in a team-high 67, while slugging .722 and reaching base at a .495 clip.  He earned LSC Player of the Week honors a league-high three times this season.  He is fourth nationally in walks (47), while ranking second in the league in doubles (17) for 54th nationally.  Amaro leads the LSC in home runs with 14 for 36th nationally, while ranking third in the LSC in on-base percentage (.495) for 42nd nationally.  He is third in the LSC in runs scored (53) for 53rd nationally, while ranking fourth nationally in RBI with 67.  He is third in the LSC in sacrifice flies (5), while ranking second in the LSC in slugging percentage at .722 for 39th nationally.

This is Amaro's second all-league honor at WT, as well, as he was a second team selection in 2017 and earned Conference Commissioners Association (CCA) First Team All-Region honors last year.

Vanderburg is in his tenth season at WT and is 315-202 at WT as the winningest all-time coach in program history.  He is 414-269 in 13 seasons of coaching overall.  Vanderburg has won 30 or more games at WT each of the last six seasons and seven during his time with the Buffaloes.

Baxter transferred to WT this season and has been outstanding as he leads the team in average at a .368 clip in 37 games with 31 starts.  Baxter has gone 39 of 106 from the dish with 24 runs scored, 12 doubles, one triple, one home run and 24 RBI.  He is slugging .528 and reaching base at a .485 clip.  Baxter has gone 21 of 23 in SBA/ATT this season.  He is fifth in the LSC in average and fifth in on-base percentage.

Both Cook and Corbett each are 9-2 on the year as they are both one win shy of tying the school record for wins in season set last season by former Buff Joshua Payne.  Corbett has a 3.32 ERA in his first season as a Buff.  He has started 12 games with three complete games, one shutout in a team-high 81.1 innings.  He has allowed 76 hits, 35 runs – 30 earned, walked 18 and fanned a team-high 83 as teams are hitting just .254 against him.  He is second in the LSC in strikeouts (83) for 62nd nationally, while his nine wins ranks 13th nationally, and is tied for the league-lead with Cook. Corbett is second in the LSC in WHIP at 1.16.

Cook boasts a 3.82 ERA in 14 appearances with nine starts, one complete game and 70.2 innings of work.  He has allowed 69 hits, 40 runs – 30 earned, walked 23 and fanned 78.  The opposition has hit .257 against him.  Cook is fifth in the league in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.93, while ranking fourth in the league in WHIP at 1.30 clip.

Bryan earned first team all-conference honors and the first time he has earned all-league honors while at WT this season as he is hitting .348 in 45 games with 44 starts, mostly at the lead-off position.  Bryan has scored 55 runs with 62 hits, while recording 14 doubles, four triples and six home runs, while driving in 42.  He is slugging .573 and reaching base at a .435 clip.  He leads the team going 16 of 20 in stolen bases.  Bryan is fourth in the LSC in doubles (14), while ranking second in the LSC in runs (55) for 40th nationally, while ranking sixth in the LSC in stolen bases (16).

Canas has had another strong season for the Buffs as he earned honorable mention all-conference honors last season and first team accolades this season.  Canas is second on the team in average at .352 in 49 games played and 49 starts as he and Amaro are the only two Buffs to play and start all 49 games.  Canas has a team-high 63 hits with 42 runs scored, a team-high 20 doubles, while recording a team-best five triples and recorded four home runs.  He has 44 RBI on the year with 105 total baes for second on the team. Canas has a .587 slugging percentage, while reaching base at a .437 average with 24 walks and been plunked six times.

Nationally speaking, he leads the league and is 15th nationally in doubles, while ranking fourth in the league in hits, sixth in the LSC in RBI and fourth in the league in RBI.  Canas has reached base in the last 21 games-straight to lead the team.

Cubillos earned second team all-conference honors and was named to the all-defensive team for the second-straight year.  He earned first team all-conference honors last season and was named to the all-tournament team a year ago.  This season, Cubillos is hitting .349 in 46 starts in the outfield as he has 60 hits for third on the team, while scoring 41 runs, while recording nine doubles, three triples, one home run and drove in 30.  He is slugging .453 and reaching base at a .424 clip, while going 3 of 4 in stolen bases.  Cubillos has 62 putouts in 70 chances with one error for a .986 fielding percentage.

Yearego earned honorable mention honors this season after being a first team selection last season.  He went 3-0 this season with a 2.86 ERA to lead the team.  Yearego saw action in 14 contests with six saves in 28.1 innings.  He allowed 25 hits, 11 runs – nine earned, walked five and fanned 33 as teams hit .227 against him.  He ranks third in the LSC in saves and is 50th nationally.  Yearego was LSC Tournament Most Valuable Player a season ago.

Baker also is third in the LSC in saves with six, while he has a 3.31 ERA and a 6-2 mark in a season-high 21 appearances.  He has one combined shutout in 49 innings, allowing 44 hits, 22 runs – 18 earned, walked 22 and fanned 51.

Williams has had an outstanding freshman year for the Buffs as he is hitting .297 in 43 games with 42 starts at second base.  He also was named to the all-defensive team.  Williams recorded 41 hits, 26 runs scored, nine doubles, and 19 RBI, while slugging .362 and reaching base at a .399 clip.  He had 55 putouts in 149 chances with five errors for a .966 fielding percentage, while being part of 28 double plays to lead the team.

Loya also earned LSC Academic All-Conference honors this season for the first time as he was the designated hitter for much of the year for the Buffs.  He was a second team all-conference selection as a freshman in 2016 and earned honorable mention honors this season.  Loya hit .315 with 27 runs scored in 38 games with 31 starts.  He tallied 35 hits, six doubles, two triples and was second on the team in home runs with seven.  He drove in 25 and had a .595 slugging percentage, while reaching base at a .435 clip.  Loya ranked third in the league in hit batsmen (16) for 27th nationally.

The top-seeded Buffs in the upcoming LSC Championship will host the winner of the No. 4/5 matchup between Angelo State and Eastern New Mexico on Friday at approximately 7 p.m. at Wilder Park. 

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