COLUMBUS, GA – The Peach Belt Conference announced the 2011 baseball All-Conference team at a banquet in Columbus, Ga., on the eve of the league’s championship tournament at Golden Park. For the first time, the conference awarded co-Players of the Year for Francis Marion’s Buddy Sosnoskie and Georgia College’s Shawn Ward. The honor for Sosnoskie was the start of a big night for FMU, which swept all the major award with Don Sandifer named the Pitcher of the Year, Michael Wilson the Freshman of the Year and Art Inabinet the Coach of the Year. It is the first time in conference history that one program has received all four award, the closest anyone has gotten previously was Kennesaw State who won the Player, Pitcher and Coach of the Year honors in 2002.
Sosnoskie led the Peach Belt with a .418 batting average in 2011. The junior outfielder from Statesville, N.C. started every game in center field for the Patriots and also led the league in triples. He led the team and was ranked in the PBC’s top 10 with 41 RBIs. He reached base safely in 45 of 47 games and had an on-base percentage of .490, second-best in the league. He also led the team with eight stolen bases, hit .449 in conference games, threw out five runners from the outfield and has a 20-game hitting streak heading into the PBC tournament. Sosnoskie becomes the first FMU player ever to be named the PBC’s Player of the Year.
Shawn Ward becomes the fourth Bobcat to receive the PBC Player of the Year honor, the first since Justin Mills took the title in 2007. A senior outfielder from Evans, Ga., Ward led the Peach Belt with 59 RBIs in 2011 while hitting .392. He was second in the PBC in hits, second in total bases, third in slugging percentage and runs scored and fourth in batting average. He cranked out seven home runs on the year, ninth-most in the league, with 15 doubles and a pair of triples. He also had three outfield assists and was successful in 13 of 15 stolen base attempts.
In only his second year of collegiate ball, Don Sandifer set the standard for starting pitchers in the Peach Belt Conference in 2011. 10-2 with a 1.57 ERA, he led the league in wins, batting average against and issued the fewest walks (10 in 91.2 innings). He was second in the Peach Belt in ERA and strikeouts with 92 punchouts, averaging more than a strikeout per inning. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning or later five times in his 12 starts and completed one on Feb. 19 against Winston-Salem State, striking out 14. Twice named the PBC Pitcher of the Week, he had a streak of 38.2 scoreless innings without allowing an earned run. Sandifer becomes only the third player in league history to be named both the Freshman of the Year (2010) and the Pitcher of the Year, joining North Florida’s Matt Incinelli and former FMU teammate Dylan Owen.
Michael Wilson continues the rich tradition of new talent at Francis Marion, bringing the Freshman of the Year award back to Florence for the fifth time in the last seven year. Originally from Florence, Wilson started every game for the Patriots at third base, hitting .381 with eight doubles and 25 RBIs. Twice named the PBC Freshman of the Week, he led the league in runs scored with 74 and was fifth in both batting average and hits. He began his freshman season with a 16-game hitting streak and stole six bases in seven attempts this year.
In his 11th season at the helm of the Patriots, coach Art Inabinet has his team poised once again to make a run at a national championship. Ranked #9 in the nation, the Patriots captured their first-ever PBC regular-season championship in 2011 and are a lock to reach their sixth NCAA tournament under his guidance. His 2011 team has accomplished the rare feat of being one of the best pitching and hitting teams in the PBC. The Patriots lead the league with a .330 team batting average and are second with a 2.59 staff ERA. Currently 36-12 overall, FMU is the #1 seed in the east division heading into the PBC Tournament, which they last won in 2009. The Coach of the Year award is the first for Inabinet or any FMU head coach.
The 2011 All-Conference team is listed below as selected by the league’s head coaches. Due to a tie at first-team utility player, the size of the first team was expanded by one. There was also a tie at second-team catcher.
2011 Peach Belt
1b – Preston Shuey, Francis Marion
2b – Austin Dubberly, Montevallo
3b – Bruce Alter, Columbus State
SS – Tanner Funk, Georgia College
C – Richard Pirkle, Georgia College
OF – Kenny Bellavance, North Georgia
OF – Ryan Lewis, Columbus State
OF – Buddy Sosnoskie, Francis Marion
OF – Shawn Ward, Georgia College
DH – Cameron Scott, Columbus State
UT – Jason Coker, UNC Pembroke
UT – Nate Fudala, Flagler
SP – Thomas Campbell, Columbus State
SP – Blake Hobby, North Georgia
SP – Don Sandifer, Francis Marion
SP – Scott Shipman, Augusta State
RP – Braxton Lewis, UNC Pembroke
1b – Heath Peterson, Montevallo
2b – Jeff Rice, Augusta State
3b – Drew Walker, Armstrong Atlantic State
SS – Stephen Carmon, USC Aiken
C – John Roberts, Armstrong Atlantic State
C – Troy Snitker, North Georgia
OF – Michael Coffey, Georgia Southwestern
OF – Josh Haley, UNC Pembroke
OF – Chris Ross, Montevallo
OF – Keith Whitman, UNC Pembroke
DH – Corey Benson, Georgia Southwestern
SP – Mike Guinane, Georgia College
SP – Jeffrey Stoner, Francis Marion
SP – Scott Strickland, Armstrong Atlantic State
SP – Brian Willlis, UNC Pembroke
RP – Jacob Rickett, North Georgia
Co-Players of the Year
Buddy Sosnoskie, Francis Marion
Shawn Ward, Georgia College
Pitcher of the Year
Don Sandifer, Francis Marion
Freshman of the Year
Michael Wilson, Francis Marion
Coach of the Year
Art Inabinet, Francis Marion