By MIKE MONTFORT
Navarro Baseball dominated the Region XIV East Zone All-Conference team released Monday as the league champions claimed 12 major awards.
Coach Matt Podjenski’s Bulldogs (35-20/23-7) secured seven first-team, two second-team and two honorable-mention spots on the mythical squad, in addition to one of the superlatives — The Pitcher of The Year.
Sophomore lefthander Paul Dickens (8-2, 2.64) was selected by coaches as the league’s premier pitcher. The Baylor pledge went 6-0 with a 1.56 earned run average and three shutouts during his nine league starts.
First-team honors went to sophomore catcher Beau Orlando, first baseman Scott Hastings, shortstop Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo, outfielders Josh Ragan and Mason Holt, plus freshman righthanded pitchers Austin Faith and Pepper Jones.
Second-team picks included designated hitter/first baseman Kyle Landers and Ryan Johnston.
Honorable mentions went to third baseman Noah Menchaca and closer Asher Cook.
All have played major roles for the Bulldogs as they closed the regular-season by winning 13 of the final 14 games and securing their third league title in four seasons. NC won its zone by five game over runner-up Panola and six over third-place Northeast Texas.
Orlando, the team’s individual batting leader at .368, has 12 hits in 13 trips to the plate during a four-game stretch at the end of the season. The sophomore catcher, pledged to Central Arkansas, also leads the club in on-base percentage (.511). On a team that ranks fourth nationally with 96 players hit by pitches, Orlando has a team-high 14.
Hastings has 12 hits in his last 24 at-bats, ranks second on the club in runs-batted-in (54) and leads the team in sacrifice flys (13).
A TCU transfer from Richardson, Cardoza-Oquendo, concluded the regular season with an 11-game hitting streak and in 16 games of his final 17. The shortstop leads Navarro in two-out RBI (17) and stolen bases (14). A .375 hitter with runners in scoring position, Cardoza-Oquendo ranks second in walks and in runs scored. Navarro’s usual leadoff hitter ranks third in RBIs with 38.
Ragan, another Central Arkansas commit, leads Navarro in most every hitting category, including at-bats (183), hits (67), doubles (17), triples (4), home runs (11), runs-batted-in (56), extra base hits (32) and total bases (125). Against NTCC, he had his third career two-homer game. He is hitting .543 (19-of-35) during a stretch in which he has hit safely in 8 of 9 games.
Holt is hitting .488 (21-of-43) and scored 20 runs during a current 12-game hitting streak.
Faith became the club’s first eight-game winner and hasn’t lost a decision since a 4-2 decision at McLennan in Waco on February 15. Faith has struck out 65 batters in 61.1 innings this season.
Pepper Jones, a McKinney freshman, is 3-0 and leads the Bulldog staff in appearances (21) over 44 innings and ranks third in strikeouts (54).