Kingston, Razo, Kay Highlight Valley Award Winners

 

MAY 20, 2013

ST. LOUIS – Two days after winning the Missouri Valley Conference outright for the first time in Illinois State baseball history, a trio of Redbirds have secured top honors in the Valley’s season-ending awards. Fourth year head coach Mark Kingston was named MVC Coach of the Year, Chris Razo earned Pitcher of the Year accolades, and shortstop Brett Kay was Defensive Player of the Year in the Valley, as announced Monday by the Missouri Valley Conference office.

Additionally, a Valley-record eight Redbirds collected MVC First-Team honors, as Eric Aguilera, Mike Hollenbeck, Zac Johnson, Jeremy Rhoades, Dan Savas, Kyle Stanton, Kay and Razo were recognized as top players in the conference. No team had had more than seven first-team selections in the history of the awards. Senior outfielder Chad Hinshaw was named a MVC honorable mention selection, and both Hinsaw and Kay earned Missouri Valley Conference All-Defensive Team recognition.


 

 

 “I’d like to thank the league coaches for recognizing our players in such a strong way,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “Respect is earned, and our players have worked extremely hard to earn that respect. These are well-deserved, and go hand-in-hand with our team concept. As the team has success, this follows. Congrats also to our assistant coaches Bo Durkac, Bill Mohl, Mike Current and our student assistant, Justin Hauer, also Chris Carter and Eric Post, and all who helped these student-athletes greatly. This success takes a lot of people and effort.”

Kingston, who was also named MVC Coach of the Year in 2010, guided the Redbirds to the most successful regular season in program history. The Redbirds tied a program record with 36 overall wins, secured a program-best 12-game winning streak and won the MVC outright for the first time in school history. Illinois State finished the season with 24 wins over its final 28 games and finished 16-5 in the Valley. Kingston owns a 51-25 Valley record, with two titles, over four seasons at the helm of the Redbird baseball program.

Razo, a senior right-handed pitcher from Chillicothe, Ill., became the first Redbird pitcher to win the MVC Pitcher of the Year award. After opening the season four-for-four in save opportunities, Razo transitioned seamlessly to the Redbird starting rotation. Over nine starts, Razo went 7-1 with a 1.48 ERA and tallied 58 strikeouts in 67.0 innings pitched. He collected five complete games, four of which came versus Valley opponents, and out-pitched both Nick Petree and Sean Manaea, two of the top league-hurlers, in games at Duffy Bass Field. Razo blanked Bradley, with a career-best nine strike outs, for his first collegiate shutout April 26 in Peoria, Ill.   

Kay, a four-year starter for the Redbirds at shortstop, earned Illinois State’s first MVC Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Arlington Heights, Ill., native posted a .972 fielding percentage with 188 assists in 54 starts at shortstop. Additionally, Kay batted .309 (batting average)/.404 (on-base percentage)/.426 (slugging percentage) with three home runs, nine doubles, three triples and 32 RBI. Kay was 9-for-10 on stolen base attempts and was the Redbird team leader in sacrifice bunts with seven.

Aguilera earned his second MVC First-Team selection after a standout senior season for the Redbirds. The Cary, Ill., product started all 54 games for the Redbirds in right field, batting .360/.417/.542. In addition to leading the team in batting average and slugging percentage, Aguilera paced the Redbirds in RBI (54), hits (77) and total bases (116). Aguilera finished tied for the team lead in home runs (7) and clubbed 14 doubles and two triples.

Hollenbeck, a junior catcher from Joliet, Ill., finished 2013 .285/.367/.320 with one home run, three doubles and 24 RBI. He made 49 starts and 50 total appearances, posted a .991 fielding percentage behind the plate and tallied 55 total bases.

Johnson also collected his second MVC First-Team honor, batting .322/.399/.502 with 44 RBI during his senior season. He tied Aguilera for the team lead in home runs (7), knocked 14 doubles and added one triple. The Bloomington, Ill., native is a two-year starter for the Redbirds after transferring from Heartland Community College.

Rhoades anchored the Redbird bullpen, posting a 0.77 ERA in 25 relief appearances for Illinois State in 2013. He finished the season 2-1 with a team-best five saves, allowing only three earned runs in 35.0 innings. Rhoades struck out 32 batters and limited opponents to a .198 batting average. He fired 4.1 perfect innings in relief and earned the victory as Illinois State clinched its first outright MVC title Saturday at Southern Illinois.

Savas earned MVC First-Team recognition after compiling one of the most successful single-seasons in Redbird baseball history. He made 14 starts, going 9-0 with a 1.97 ERA. The Rosemont, Ill., native fired four complete games, two of which were shutouts, striking out a team-best 86 batters in 91.1 innings. His nine victories matched the Illinois State record for most wins in a single season since Illinois State became a NCAA Division I baseball program. His complete-game Friday at Southern Illinois clinched a share of the MVC crown for the Redbirds for just the second time in program history.

Stanton started all 54 games for the Redbirds at first base, hitting .342/.430/.480. In addition to leading the offense in on-base percentage, Stanton clubbed a team-best 18 doubles and had a stretch of at least one double in six-consecutive games. Stanton finished with 39 RBI, 94 total bases and 67 hits while posting a .985 fielding percentage at first base.

Hinshaw, a four year starter in center field for the Redbirds, batted .286/.350/.423 to earn MVC honorable mention status. He led the Redbirds in stolen bases, successfully stealing 31-of-35 bases and setting the Illinois State program record for career stolen bases with 106. Hinshaw added four home runs, nine doubles, four triples and 33 RBI. He tallied a .959 fielding percentage with five outfield assists and started all 54 games for the Redbirds.

Illinois State returns to action in opening round action of the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Championship Tuesday night at Duffy Bass Field. The Redbirds, who are the top-seeded team in the tournament, play eight seed Bradley with first pitch slated for 7:37 p.m. Tickets are available through GoRedbirds.com, the official website of the Illinois State athletic department.

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