Klocke collects honor of OVC's rookie of year

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Southeast's Asif Shah was selected to the all-OVC first team.

Southeast Missouri State catcher Jim Klocke would be having a strong season even if he were an upperclassman.

The fact Klocke is a freshman makes what he is doing this year even more impressive.

Klocke's banner campaign was recognized Tuesday as he was named the Ohio Valley Conference rookie of the year based on voting by the league's head baseball coaches and sports information directors.

In addition, Southeast senior Asif Shah -- who excels on the mound and at the plate -- made the all-OVC first team as a utility player, while junior pitcher Dustin Renfrow earned all-OVC second-team honors.

Klocke was also named to the OVC all-freshman team, as were two more Southeast rookies: Nick Harris, the Redhawks' third baseman, and pitcher Josh Syberg.

"You always are disappointed when more of your guys don't make all-conference, and we certainly had some others who were deserving," said Southeast coach Mark Hogan, whose squad finished third in the 10-team OVC. "But obviously, when you go against nine other teams, some of the numbers are outstanding and a lot of times it's a statistical choice.

"We're proud of the guys that got it. The ones that didn't, hopefully they'll have really good [OVC] tournaments and have a chance to make the all-tournament team."

Hogan was elated for Klocke, the 2006 Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association player of the year after he helped lead Vianney High School in St. Louis to the Class 4 state championship.

Klocke started all 53 games this season, including 51 times behind the plate -- despite the fact he never caught in high school.

Klocke is batting .314 with 36 runs scored, 10 doubles, three home runs and 36 runs batted in. He is third on the Redhawks in hitting, third in runs scored, tied for fourth in doubles and tied for fourth in RBIs.

In addition, Klocke leads Southeast in walks with 33 and on-base percentage at .438. His walk total ranks second in the OVC and he is eighth in on-base percentage.

"Jim is very deserving of this award," Hogan said. "He was a real iron man for us. Nobody [in the OVC] has caught more innings than he has.

"The guy's been incredible, and I think he's only going to get better. He's really got a bright future with us."

Shah, among the leading candidates for OVC player of the year honors, had to settle for being Southeast's only representative on the all-conference first team.

At the plate, where he generally serves as Southeast's designated hitter although he has played left field recently, Shah is batting .305 with five home runs, 10 doubles and a team-leading 49 RBIs that have him tied for fourth in the OVC. He is fourth on the squad in average and homers, while being tied for fourth in doubles.

On the mound, the left-hander is 7-2 with a 2.85 earned-run average. He leads the Redhawks in victories.

In OVC pitching rankings, Shah is tied for third in wins, fourth in ERA, fourth in strikeouts with 72, first in shutouts with three and tied for second in complete games with six.

Shah this year became the only baseball player in OVC history to win the league's player of the week and pitcher of the week awards in the same season, and he is on the watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award that goes to the nation's top player.

"Asif has just had a sensational season as a two-way player," Hogan said. "I thought he would have been very deserving to be the player of the year for our conference."

Renfrow, Southeast's lone player on the all-OVC second team, is 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA that ranks second in the conference and 37th nationally.

Renfrow, a right-hander, is also tied for second in the OVC with two shutouts and tied for sixth with three complete games.

"Dustin has had a tremendous season for us, especially for his first year of Division I," said Hogan of the junior college transfer who has been saddled with eight no-decisions. "He's arguably pitched as well as anybody in the league."

Southeast's other two all-freshman selections have also been impressive.

Harris, who has started all 53 games at third base, is batting .292 with 12 doubles, four triples, eight homers, 37 RBIs and 52 runs scored.

Harris leads Southeast in doubles and triples, while being tied for first in runs scored and homers, along with ranking third in RBIs.

In OVC statistics, Harris is tied for second in runs scored, tied for fourth in triples and tied for fifth in homers.

Syberg, a teammate of Klocke's at Vianney High School, has been one of Southeast's conference starters all season, along with Renfrow and Shah. He is 4-3 with a 4.44 ERA and is tied for sixth in the OVC with 66 strikeouts.

"Just like Jim, Nick and Josh have had very good freshman seasons," Hogan said. "I think all three of those guys will have a chance to make some freshman All-American teams."

Top individual honors

Jacksonville State junior outfielder Clay Whittemore was voted OVC player of the year, Austin Peay senior Shawn Kelley was chosen the league's pitcher of the year and Austin Peay's Gary McClure is the conference coach of the year.

Whittemore leads the league in hits (88) and RBIs (67), while ranking second in batting average (.396), third in total bases (115), fourth in runs scored (50), fourth in on-base percentage (.454) and ninth in slugging percentage (.518).

Kelley is 10-3 (7-1 in league play) with a 2.65 ERA. He leads the league in wins, complete games (seven) and innings pitched (108 2/3). He is second in shutouts (two), third in ERA and fifth in strikeouts (68).

McClure, who is in his 20th season at Austin Peay, earned his fourth OVC coach of the year award after leading the Govs to a 19-8 conference record and the OVC regular-season title.

Austin Peay, picked fourth in the preseason poll, lost its first three OVC games and was 4-5 after three weeks of conference play before winning 15 of its final 18 league games.

Jacksonville State, the OVC regular-season runner-up, led the way with three first-team all-conference selections.

Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois and Samford each had two first-team picks.

Hudson on second team

Murray State senior second baseman Seth Hudson, a Cape Girardeau native, earned all-OVC second-team honors for the second straight season.

Hudson, a former Central High School star, ranks third in the league with a .373 batting average, first in triples with six and ninth in on-base percentage at .436. He is 27th nationally in triples per game.

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