The awards keep coming in for Tennessee Wesleyan athletes.
TWU baseball’s Gary Mattis Jr. has been named the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Player of the Year as well as a First-Team All-American at shortstop. Kobe Foster was also tabbed as a First-Team All-American as a pitcher and Zach Hoguession is a Second-Team All-American as an outfielder.
Also receiving honors is former McMinn Central golfer John Houk, who was named a member of the NAIA All-American First Team. It’s only the second time in program history, and the first time since 2012, the men's golf program had a member named an All-American by the NAIA. This marks the first time the program has had a student-athlete named to the first team.
The All-American Teams consist of 17 players on each team for a total of 34 student-athletes to be named to the list, along with an All-American Honorable Mention Team (the First and Second Team are position-specific while the Honorable Mention Team is non-position specific). The All-American teams were selected by the NAIA-Baseball Coaches' Association All-America Committee.
Along with being NAIA All-Americans, the student-athletes selected to the first and second teams are also recognized by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and Rawlings Sporting Goods as ABCA/Rawlings All-Americans.
Mattis Jr. was named the 2021 NAIA Baseball National Player of the Year after finishing the season in the top 10 of 10 different statistical categories, becoming the first player in program history to be named the National Player of the Year by the NAIA.
Mattis Jr. led the team and Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) in a number of offensive categories. The shortstop led in batting average (.408), hits (82), home runs (25), slugging percentage (.896), runs scored per game (1.49), hits per game (1.49), home runs per game (0.46), total bases (180), and on-base percentage (.523).
The Broward County, Fla., native was second in the conference in runs batted in (82) and doubles (21), and second on the team in stolen bases (27). The junior was also named the AAC Player of the Year and to the All-AAC First Team this season.
Nationally, Mattis Jr. was third in runs scored per game, fifth in total runs scored, total bases, runs batted in, total bases per game (3.27), and home runs, sixth in home runs per game, and eighth in slugging percentage.
Foster, the AAC Pitcher of the Year and All-AAC First Team member, finished the season with a 12-0 record on the mound in 14 starts during the 2021 season. The Huntland native was second in the AAC in earned run average (1.83), while leading the team in opponent batting average (.186), innings pitched (88.1), strikeouts per game (10.80), strikeouts (106), hits allowed per game (5.91), and a conference-leading 12 wins. Nationally, the junior was fourth in wins and eighth in earned run average.
While finishing tied for second on the team and in the AAC in home runs (22), the El Cajon, Calif., native led the AAC in runs batted in with 92 this season. The Newcomer of the Year in the AAC and All-AAC First Team member had a .354 batting average during the 2021 season, compiling 73 hits, the second-most on the team.
The junior had the second-best slugging percentage on the team at .786. Nationally, Hogueisson was second in runs batted in, runs batted in per game (1.64), and tied for ninth in home runs.
The three new additions to the All-American mantle give the baseball program 42 All-Americans in the program's history.
The Bulldogs finished the season with a record of 53-6, which was the most wins of the NAIA this season and the second most in program history.
TWU was the winner of the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament titles. It was the program’s 13th AAC Tournament title and the Bulldogs qualified for their 12th consecutive NAIA Tournament.
The six losses are a program record for the least amount of losses in a completed season while the team won 50 or more games for the second consecutive completed season and the third time under head coach Billy Berry.
TWU finished the season ranked No. 7. Georgia Gwinnett College finished the year as No. 1. Bryan College was No. 21.
Houk finished the 2020-2021 season ranked No. 3 in the NAIA according to Golfstat, the second-highest ranked men's golfer from the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). A season that saw the freshman average 71.79 during his outings on the links helped Houk earn three AAC Men's Golfer of the Week awards and an NAIA National Player of the Week award.
The Etowah native finished with a 49-6 record against players ranked in the top 100 of Golfstat's NAIA player rankings. In nine tournaments this season, Houk finished in the top five of seven, top three in five, and was the individual medalist in two. Houk helped the Bulldogs win three team titles this season.
Houk's season-low this season was a 65 in the second round of the Bojangles Intercollegiate, a tournament he shot 16-under overall to win by 12 strokes.
A total of 45 student-athletes were named to the three All-American teams, 15 on each team. The All-American teams are selected by the NAIA Men's Golf Coaches' Association All-America Committee.