Five Redbirds Earn All-Conference Honors
May 18, 2009
ST. LOUIS - Illinois State shortstop Collin Salzenstein was one of five Redbirds to earn all-conference honors after he was named to the All-Missouri Valley Conference Second Team, as announced by the league office Monday.
Salzenstein, a senior from St. Louis who spent most of the season at the Redbirds' leadoff hitter, tied for the team high with 56 hits and finished the regular season with a .320 batting average. Ryan Camp, Ryan Court, Tyler McNeely and Mike Stalowy were all named as honorable mention selections. The five selections are the most for Illinois State since the Redbirds placed five on the 2006 All-Missouri Valley Conference teams.
Salzenstein turned saved his best offensive season for his last at ISU, but it was his defense along with Stalowy up the middle that helped the Redbirds qualify for their first State Farm MVC Tournament since 2001. Salzenstein started all but two games at shortstop for Illinois State after missing the entire 2008 campaign following shoulder surgery.
Camp led Illinois State's starting pitchers with three wins and a 4.39 ERA in Valley games. The freshman from Mapleton, Ill., led the Redbirds to victory in each of his first five MVC starts, including a win at Wichita State - the Redbirds' first at Eck Stadium since 1995. The right-hander limited Valley opponents to a team-low .234 batting average.
Court emerged as one of Illinois State's top offensive producers after hitting just .154 in eight games last season. The redshirt sophomore from Sleepy Hollow, Ill., drove in a team-best 40 runs - 25 in Valley play - and finished second on the team with a .325 batting average. Court earned Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week honors April 20 and was named ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District V.
McNeely started every conference game in centerfield for the Redbirds while adding to the defense up the middle of the field. He was the top power threat for ISU during the regular season with seven home runs. McNeely batted .305 and led the Redbirds with 14 extra-base hits in Valley games.
Stalowy was arguably the Redbirds top hitter and posted a team-best .980 fielding percentage while committing just four errors on the infield. Stalowy finished the regular season with a team-best 327 batting average and hit .330 in Missouri Valley Conference games. The senior from Joliet, Ill., tied for the team lead with 56 hits, finished second with 14 doubles and 37 RBI, and led the `Birds with four triples. Stalowy earned MVC Player of the Week honors April 13.
Missouri State took three of the four specialty awards announced Monday. Brayden Drake was named Joe Carter Player of the Year, Buddy Baumann Pitcher of the Year and Kevin Medrano was Freshman of the Year. Northern Iowa's Travis Bennett was named Newcomer of the Year.
Illinois State, seeded sixth, will open the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament against top-seeded Missouri State at Eck Stadium in Wichita, Kan. at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The Redbirds will take on No. 2 seed Indiana State Thursday at 3 p.m. before playing tournament host and No. 3 seed Wichita State at 7 p.m. Friday.