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Merrell, Borders Earn American First Team Honors, Three Others Placed On Second Team

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Five Bulls are rewarded with pacing USF to its first 40-win season since 1996.

USF

The American Athletic Conference announced their first and second team selections today and five Bulls made the list, including SS Kevin Merrell and DH Luke Borders.

Merrell was selected to the first team for the second consecutive season, only this time as a shortstop. The junior from Odessa set the tone atop of the lineup for the Bulls hitting a conference-best .387 in the regular season. He also added some pop to his already impressive skill set by mashing six home runs. He also stole 18 bases. Merrell flirted with a .400/.500/.600 triple slash line for the year before “slumping” to a .387/.468/.576.

Head coach Mark Kingston told The Daily Stampede before the season that he anticipated that Borders would have a big season and the senior didn’t disappoint. The lefty hit .344/.427/.521 with seven home runs and a team-best 50 RBIs. He also chipped in four steals, not bad for your DH.

Senior RHP Phoenix Sanders, junior Peter Strezlecki, and OF Duke Stunkel Jr. represented the Bulls on the second team.

Sanders was a reliable Friday night starter for most of the year, going 5-2 with a 2.83 ERA while striking out 99 batters in 86 innings. His last two starts at UConn and C. showed how good he can be, giving up just three runs and striking out 13 batters combined in both games.

Sanders will get the ball for USF vs Tulane in their first game of the AAC Tournament tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.

Strzlecki was the unquestioned feel-good story of the 2017 season. He lost his father suddenly in late April and pitched for his team just a couple of days later. He was understandably roughed up in that game,, but came back in his next two starts after the funeral and tossed gems capped by his complete game, shutout of UConn in Storrs. He had the lowest ERA among qualifiers on the team with an minuscule 2.48 ERA.

Stunkel Jr was the utility man for the Bulls, playing all three out field spots as well as first base. He hit .343/.429/.456 with a team-best 14 doubles and one very clutch home run at C. last Thursday that started their rally.

Congratulations to all five players as they deserved the recognition for their great seasons.