In what was a season of disappointment for the WSU baseball team, there was one enormous bright spot: Redshirt sophomore first baseman Taylor Ard, who was named to the All-Pac-10 team today.
Ard led WSU in numerous offensive categories -- including a .337 average, 10 home runs (first in the Pac-10), 55 RBIs (first in the Pac-10), 17 doubles and 40 runs -- after transferring this year from Mt. Hood Community College. He initially struggled with his power stroke, but finished the year on fire, hitting .500 (12-for-24) over his last seven conference games with three homers, seven doubles and 12 RBIs.
"If he swings the bat like he did the last four weeks for an entire season, you’re looking at one of the best hitters in the country," Marbut told Howie Stalwick of Cougfan.com.
Ard finished the year with a .408 on-base percentage and .577 slugging percentage for an OPS of .985 -- nearly 140 points better than runner up Derek Jones.
Speaking of Jones, the right fielder was named honorable mention after a season in which he hit .275 with seven home runs.
Notably absent? Friday night starter Adam Conley, who projects to be drafted in the first couple of rounds of next week's MLB amateur draft.
Anyone who watched the team closely knows Conley pitched better than his numbers would indicate, thanks to numerous times when poor defense unnecessarily stretched out innings. The lack of help behind him is reflected in his 18 unearned runs allowed and his .342 average allowed on balls in play, each among the highest marks among starters in the conference. Despite all this, the lefty was a workhorse, throwing 108 innings -- fourth in the conference.
His abilities might have been lost on the coaches in the conference, who tend to over rely on results, but it most certainly isn't lost on the professional scouts. I'm going to be chatting with Jason Churchill of ESPN.com's MLB Draft Blog and ProspectInsider.com tomorrow about Conley's professional prospects, so be on the lookout for that.