Eagles place 5 on All-Heartland Conference baseball honor list

OC first baseman Blake Stringer was one of five Eagles to earn All-Heartland Conference honors.
OC first baseman Blake Stringer was one of five Eagles to earn All-Heartland Conference honors.

WACO, Texas (May 8, 2014) – A third-place finish in a tough baseball league resulted in strong representation for Oklahoma Christian on the annual All-Heartland Conference honor teams, released Thursday.

Four OC players – pitchers Dillon Endecott and Brandon Pierce, first baseman Blake Stringer and outfielder Jordan Lopez – received recognition on the 18-man first-team list, while catcher Caden Cleveland was a second-team pick.

OC finished the regular season 32-15 overall and 19-11 in league play, finishing behind only NCAA Division II powers Lubbock Christian (Texas) and St. Edward’s (Texas).

“We are proud of all of those guys and glad to see that the conference coaches agreed with us that they were all-conference-caliber players,” OC coach Lonny Cobble said. “Pierce and Endecott have been mainstays on the mound for us this season and Blake and Jordan consistently have been two of our best hitters. Caden has played well behind the plate for us and also given us some offensive pop.”

During the regular season, Pierce, a senior right-hander from Gunter, Texas, was OC’s No. 1 starter, compiling a 9-3 record with a 3.08 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 73 innings. He finished sixth in the conference in strikeouts and tied for fourth in wins.

Endecott, a junior right-hander from McLoud, developed into the conference’s best closer, recording 12 saves – more than twice as many as anyone else in the Heartland – while posting a 1.36 ERA (second-best in the conference) and 27 strikeouts in 33 innings. He set OC’s single-season and career record for saves.

Stringer, a senior from Blanchard, started all 47 games for the Eagles and was the team’s second-leading hitter at .381. He led the team with 51 RBIs and added six home runs, four triples and 16 doubles, giving him a healthy .613 slugging percentage, sixth-best in the conference. He was fourth in the conference in RBIs, fifth in batting average and sixth in doubles. He also stole 13 bases.

Lopez, a junior from Edmond, hit .385 (third-best in the league) with four home runs and 35 RBIs (seventh-highest in the conference) for the Eagles. He also had 10 doubles and three triples and his .624 slugging percentage ranked fifth in the conference.

Cleveland, a junior from Oklahoma City who starred at Christian Heritage Academy, batted .345 with three home runs and 24 RBIs. He also had nine doubles and two triples, giving him a .607 slugging percentage, seventh-best in the conference, and had a .467 on-base percentage.

The conference decided to not allow league members that are in the NCAA Division II membership process, such as OC, to win individual player or coaching honors or win regular-season titles. St. Edward’s, which finished second in the regular-season conference standings but was awarded the regular-season crown, had the player of the year (Wes Koenig), pitcher of the year (Brannon Easterling), newcomer of the year (Dalton Brown) and coach of the year (Rob Penders).

Tyler Bugner of Newman (Kan.) was named the freshman of the year.