Most observers in college baseball who follow the game closely knew that Texas Tech infielder Jace Jung had the talent to lead his team into the NCAA tournament — and he did.
Jung, a third-year sophomore from MacArthur, lived up to his billing. Showing patience at the plate as one of the most feared power threats in the nation, he paced the Red Raiders in multiple offensive categories and earned all-conference honors in the Big 12.
Tech is scheduled to open the tournament Friday in the NCAA Statesboro regional in Georgia. The Red Raiders will play Notre Dame in their opener.
More surprising than Jung’s efforts were the performances of two other players with San Antonio-area connections — Texas State’s Dalton Shuffield and Tristan Stivors.
Shuffield, a senior infielder from Johnson, and Stivors, a senior pitcher from Medina Valley, emerged as two of the best players in Texas.
With a robust .390 batting average, Shuffield was the Player of the Year in the Sun Belt Conference. Stivors led all of NCAA Division I with 17 saves.
The Bobcats’ NCAA sojourn starts Friday night at 8 p.m. when they take on the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in the Palo Alto regional.
Jalen Battles of Arkansas (from Madison High School), Luke Boyers of TCU (Boerne Champion) and Douglas Hodo III of Texas (Boerne) were three others from the area who started on teams that will play in the national tournament.
Jace Jung-Texas Tech, Dalton Shuffield-Texas State, Tristan Stivors-Texas State. Shuffield was Player of the Year in the Sun Belt Conference. Stivors was named first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball Magazine. Jung and Shuffield were named to Collegiate Baseball’s second team. All three were named to their respective all-conference first teams.
Jalen Battles-Arkansas, Luke Boyers-TCU, Douglas Hodo III-Texas, Jace Jung-Texas Tech, Dalton Shuffield-Texas State, Tristan Stivors-Texas State. (Stivors is included in this list because of his standing as a core player on the Bobcats’ pitching staff).
Jalen Battles, shortstop, an Arkansas senior from Madison High School — Slashed .289/.357/.490 at the plate for the Razorbacks and once again displayed skills that showed he is one of the top defensive shortstops in the Southeastern Conference. His offensive numbers improved from his first season in Fayetteville. Last season, he slashed .269/.371/.407.
Luke Boyers, right field, a TCU sophomore from Boerne Champion — Boyers started all 56 games for the Horned Frogs. He starred defensively with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. A former quarterback in high school, Boyers had 113 putouts and three assists in 116 chances. Offensively, he slashed .256/.347/.412.
Douglas Hodo III, center field, a Texas redshirt sophomore from Boerne — Hodo was a steady force both defensively and offensively. Switching from right field last year to play center this year, he produced a 1.000 fielding percentage with 126 putouts and one assist in 127 chances. Offensively, his slash line .311/.409/.518. He improved his batting average 30 points from last year. Hodo ripped a team-leading 24 doubles and scored 65 runs, which ranked second.
Jace Jung, second base, a Texas Tech redshirt sophomore from MacArthur — Considered one of baseball’s top prospects leading into MLB draft this summer, Jung led the Red Raiders with a .340 batting average and tied for the team lead with 14 home runs. He also produced 56 RBI. Jung’s home run production was down from last year, when hit 21, but it’s been traced to the way opponents pitched so carefully to him. Jung, the younger brother of Texas Rangers minor league standout Josh Jung, was fifth nationally with 58 walks.
Dalton Shuffield, shortstop, a Texas State senior from Johnson — In earning Player of the Year honors in the Sun Belt, Shuffield became the first Texas State player to do so since Paul Goldschmidt in 2009 … Goldschmidt is a six-time all-star in the major leagues … Shuffield led the Bobcats in hitting (.390), doubles (20) and runs scored (76). His slash line was a robust .390/.450/.686. Defensively, he struggled at times with 14 errors in 245 chances. Shuffield is Texas State’s career leader in doubles, triples and extra-base hits.
Tristan Stivors, relief pitcher, a Texas State senior from Medina Valley — Stivors was a rock in the Bobcats’ bullpen all season, utilizing a devastating breaking ball to ring up a nation-leading 17 saves. He also recorded an earned run average of 2.42, which was second on the team. For the season, Stivors struck out 72 and walked only 16 in 52 innings.
San Antonio athletes in the NCAA tournament:
Coleson Abel, Texas Tech, LHP, freshman from Kerrville Tivy
Jalen Battles, Arkansas, SS, senior from Madison and McLennan Community College
Rody Barker, Texas A&M, OF-C, graduate transfer from Kerrville Tivy, New Mexico Junior College
Brandon Beckel, Texas Tech, P, sophomore from Antonian
Luke Boyers, TCU, OF, sophomore from Boerne Champion
Porter Brown, TCU, OF, redshirt sophomore from Reagan
Nathan Dettmer, Texas A&M, P, sophomore from Johnson
Cohen Feser, TCU, P, freshman from Reagan
Douglas Hodo III, Texas, OF, redshirt sophomore from Boerne
Jace Jung, Texas Tech, 2B, sophomore from MacArthur
Alex Magers, Texas A&M, P, sophomore from D’Hanis
Matthew Nicholas, Texas State, RHP, New Braunfels Christian Academy
August Ramirez, Texas State, C, redshirt sophomore from O’Connor
Dalton Shuffield, Texas State, INF, senior from Johnson
Travis Sthele, Texas, P, redshirt freshman from Reagan
Tristan Stivors, Texas State, P, senior from Medina Valley and New Mexico JC
Austin Stracener, Texas A&M, INF, freshman from New Braunfels Canyon
Jordan Thompson, Texas A&M, OF, junior from Boerne Champion, Incarnate Word, Grayson College
Sam Walbridge, Texas, P, redshirt sophomore from Saint Mary’s Hall
Zac Vooletich, Texas Tech, INF/OF, junior from Brandeis and Navarro College