Before the East Texas Pump Jacks can earn a Texas Collegiate League championship this postseason, several Pump Jacks players secure hardware of their own Monday.
The TCL announced its annual awards and All-League Team, and the Jacks were well represented. Matt Juengel picked up one of the league’s four major awards when he was named TCL Freshman of the Year.
East Texas also placed a league-high five players on the All-League Team: Juengel at third base was joined by catcher Brett Nicholas, outfielder Russell LaFleur, and left-handed pitcher David Rollins. Second baseman Greg Fontenot was tabbed as the All-League designated hitter.
Juengel, a two-time TCL Player of the Week, batted .322 on the regular season and tied for the league lead with four home runs. He scored a team-high 27 runs and led the Pump Jacks in average, hits (47), total bases (67), slugging percentage (.459), and on-base percentage (.398). Not only did he lead the TCL in homers, but ranked among league leaders in average (third), hits (third), slugging percentage (fourth), on-base percentage (fourth, tie), RBI (fifth), and doubles (fifth, tie).
A freshman out of Panola College, Juengel is transferring to Texas A&M.
Nicholas has been the undisputed clubhouse leader of the Jacks this summer and one of the best clutch hitters in the league. He led the league in RBI with 32, five ahead of his nearest competition, and batted .258 on the season. His eleven doubles led the Pump Jacks and were second in the TCL. With 22 walks, he tied James Stanfield for the team lead and finished third in the league. Nicholas added 26 runs and two homers.
This sort of honor is becoming old hat for Nicholas. He was tabbed as a West Coast League all-star last summer while playing for the Kelowna Falcons. A star for head coach Ben Taylor’s Artichokes at Scottsdale Community College, the sophomore is transferring to the Big 12 and Missouri this fall.
While Juengel and Nicholas have made names for themselves as sluggers, LaFleur and Fontenot have been setting the table all summer. LaFleur batted .276 during the regular season, third on the team, and his .375 on-base percentage was second on the Jacks and placed him in the TCL’s top 20. His 11 stolen bases tied him for second in the league with teammate Mike Petello. A Katy native, LaFleur is a sophomore out of Missouri.
That Fontenot was selected is as much a testament to his perseverance as it his performance. The lynchpin at the top of the Pump Jacks lineup, Fontenot went down with a hamstring injury early in July. Instead of packing it in and heading back to Louisiana-Lafayette, he rehabbed and returned to the Jacks with two weeks remaining in the season. Despite missing three weeks, he batted .261 and drew 16 walks for a .346 on-base percentage. The sophomore scored 15 runs and finished behind LaFleur and Petello with seven stolen bases.
Rollins showed this season why the Seattle Mariners selected him in the 23rd round of this year’s draft – and why the Los Angeles Dodgers picked him last year out of high school. The freshman lefty posted a 5-2 record with a 2.45 ERA, tying for second in the league in wins. With 63 strikeouts in 51.1 innings, he topped the league in whiffs, although he also finished among the leaders with 26 walks. Rollins allowed only 37 hits on the season, holding opposing hitters to a paltry .194 average.
Despite being drafted by the Mariners, Rollins is expected to return for his sophomore campaign at San Jacinto College.
The complete list of award winners announced by the TCL Monday is below:
Player of the Year: Mark Hudson, Victoria
Pitcher of the Year: Rett Varner, Coppell
Freshman of the Year: Matt Juengel, East Texas
Coach of the Year: Chris Clemons, Victoria
C: Brett Nicholas, East Texas
1B: Mike Davis, Victoria
2B: J.B. Brown, McKinney
3B: Matt Juengel, East Texas
SS: Kenny Jackson, Victoria
OF: James Foster, Coppell
OF: Mark Hudson, Victoria
OF: Russell LaFleur, East Texas
DH: Greg Fontenot, East Texas
RHP: Rett Varner, Coppell
LHP: David Rollins, East Texas
Reliever: Joaquin Hinojosa, Brazos Valley
The Pump Jacks welcome the Coppell Copperheads to historic Driller Park tonight for Game Two of their first round playoff series. The Copperheads took Game One Sunday night, 7-6, scoring a pair of late runs to secure the victory.
Tonight will be Team Poster Giveaway Night at historic Driller Park. The first 500 fans at the ballpark will receive a 2009 Pump Jacks commemorative team poster, featuring photos of this year’s Jacks players, coaches, and even Boomer and Derrick. The poster is presented courtesy of CBS 19 and Hudson Graphics.
Monday also features a new fan favorite promotion, Kids Eat Free Night. All children 12 and under receive a voucher good for a hit dog, chips, and a soft drink, just for attending the game.
If the series is tied at one game apiece after Monday, the Pump Jacks and Copperheads will play a decisive Game Three on Tuesday night at historic Driller Park.
The winner of the series will advance to the TCL Championship Series. The Championship Series will open on Thursday, with Game Two Friday and Game Three, if necessary, on Saturday, August 15.
Tickets for Monday’s Game Two against Coppell are on sale now. Tickets may be purchased at the Pump Jacks office at 1100 Stone Road, Suite 120, in Kilgore, or by phone at (903) 218-GO ET. Tickets can also be purchased prior to the game at the ticket office at historic Driller Park. And as always, tickets are available online – and they can be printed right at home – by visiting www.pumpjacksbaseball.com.