June 18, 2010

Golden Eagle sluggers earn a couple more

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Juniors AJ Kirby-Jones and Chad Oberacker continue to reel in recognition by multiple national organizations as all-Americans during the 2010 post-season.

Utility player AJ Kirby-Jones has been named second team All-America by the Pro-Line Athletic National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) as well as picking up honors by Baseball America in being a third-team selection. These two appearances place Kirby-Jones on four All-American teams this season, as he was also named second-team by Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball News and Ping!Baseball.

Kirby-Jones holds the top spot in Tech history for All-American team appearances with four this season, a statistic challenged only by his teammate and fellow All-American Chad Oberacker, who has appeared on three teams this post-season.

Prior to the 2010 season, Tennessee Tech had not had more than one All-American named in a single decade, let alone in a single season. Additionally, no player has ever been named to multiple All-America teams prior to this year.

In addition to holding top honors for the most appearances on All-American teams, Kirby-Jones also ranks first in the TTU career record books in total bases with 409, runs scored with 143, hits with 207, doubles with 49, runs batted in with 190 and walks with 128; his career slugging percentage of .686 ties Jeremy Bonczyski for first place at Tech.

This season, AJKJ slugged .859 as Tech's designated hitter - a statistic that ranks second in the NCAA, led the Ohio Valley Conference and shattered the single season record at Tech. He finished second in the nation, first in the OVC in home runs with 26, and with 51 career home runs takes the number one spot in Tech history. He led the OVC and the Golden Eagles with 58 walks this season, which puts him fifth in the nation for base-on-balls, and holds the single season record for intentional walks with nine in 2010.

Kirby-Jones is a member of the 2010 OVC all-tournament team, and received honors as an OVC Player of the Week and National Player of the Week this season. He is a finalist for TTU’s Outstanding Male Athlete award and was recently drafted in the fifth round of the MLB First-Year Player draft by the Oakland A’s.

Oberacker, who was also a first-team All-American selection by Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball and a second-team choice by Ping!Baseball, was named to the NCBWA third-team after finishing his season ranked No. 3 in the nation, leading the Golden Eagles and the Ohio Valley Conference with a batting average of .452. With three All-American team appearances in one season, he joins Kirby-Jones as a one of the most recognized elitists in Tech baseball history.

His career batting average of .395 takes top honors in Tech history, as does his statistic of nine career triples at Tech. Batting in 70 runs this year also placed him in the number three spot on the short list of four players to have batted in more than 60 runs in a single season.

This season, batting in the clean-up position, Oberacker consistently hit over .400 and finished fourth in the nation in total hits with 108 - a statistic that ranks first in the OVC - 40 of which were for extra bases. Throughout the season he maintained an on-base percentage of .527 and slugged .690. He set single season records in 2010 for hits and doubles with 29, which ranks first in the OVC, and he ranks second in Tech's single season history in total bases with 165.

Being the only Golden Eagle to play and start all 56 games in a field position this year, Oberacker recorded a conference-high 281 total plate appearances, rounding the bases 67 times and logging five triples, six homers and 34 walks in 2010. He also recorded an outstanding 36 multi-hit games and fielded .992 on the season.

Oberacker also became the first Golden Eagle to be named Academic All-District as well as to an All-American team. He joined Kirby-Jones on the 2010 OVC all-tournament team, earned OVC Player of the Week Honors and was recently drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 19th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.