Lester, Ambriz receive postseason honors

EL DORADO—The JUCO World Series-bound South Arkansas College Stars keep piling up accolades, as they learned this week of two regional postseason honors.

Head coach Cannon Lester was selected as Division II Region 2 Coach of the Year, and freshman catcher Jacob Ambriz was selected for the DII All-Region 2 Team.

Ambriz, of Denton, Texas, separated himself throughout the season as a difference-maker behind the plate, finishing in the region’s top 10 in both put outs (265) and fielding percentage (.995). As a batter, he was in the top 10 in home runs (nine).

Lester, in his second season as skipper of the Stars (45-16), led his squad to the Region 2 regular-season title with a 30-7 record in region play. En route, his Stars knocked off top-ranked and previously-undefeated Louisiana State-Eunice, on the road, snapping a win streak of nearly 40 games.

On Monday, SouthArk beat Western Oklahoma State 6-4 in the championship game of the Plains District Tournament, claiming that title and earning a place in the JUCO World Series next week in Enid, Oklahoma.

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Shoup Named Player of Week for third time

For the third time this season, South Arkansas College sophomore second baseman Trace Shoup has been named a NJCAA D-II Region 2 Player of the Week.

Shoup, of El Dorado, averaged .438 at the plate with 10 RBIs and six runs scored, including two homers, in games over the week ending on May 7 in which the 17th-ranked Stars (41-15) went 5-2 and captured the Region 2 regular-season title.

The Stars now move into postseason play, and are the top seed in the Plains District Tournament which begins today [[Thursday May 11]] in Enid, Oklahoma. SouthArk will play eighth-seeded Redlands Community College (13-23) in its first-round game. All district tournament games will be available on a free livestream video broadcast on the Region 2 website, region2athletics.com

Shoup has separated himself as one of the best players in Division II juco baseball this year. He sits at third nationally in total RBIs (80) and is in the top 10 in total hits (83). As a fielder he is in the top 10 in double plays (26). He leads Region 2 in RBIs and is in the top five in stolen bases (24).

He also was named a Region 2 Player of the Week for the weeks ending March 26 and April 16.

Denofrio, Shoup named Players of the Week

For the second time this season, South Arkansas College has had both baseball and softball student-athletes selected for weekly regional honors.

Makenna Denofrio, a sophomore infielder from Opelousas, Louisiana; and Trace Shoup, a sophomore infielder from El Dorado; both were tabbed as NJCAA Region 2 Players of the Week for the week ending April 16.

Shoup batted .523 with a home run and eight RBIs over the week. He scored six runs as the 18th-ranked Stars (32-11, 20-4 in Region 2 play) went 3-2, which included a road victory over top-ranked Louisiana State-Eunice in non-region play and two home wins over 12th-ranked Murray State in region play.

For the season, Shoup has carved his name among the best NJCAA DII hitters in the country, as he currently is in the top five in RBIs (59) and in the top 10 in hits (63). He is in the third in Region 2 in RBIs and fifth in hits, and is top 10 in slugging percentage (.713), total runs (50) and home runs (10). His .384 batting average places him just outside of the top 10 in that category. It is Shoup’s second Regional Player of the Week selection this season.

Denofrio batted .615 with a home run and 11 RBIs over the week, while the Stars (10-30, 6-12) went 0-4. Her season RBI total puts her in the top 10 in Region 2, and her .340 season average leads the team. She also is in the region’s top 10 in slugging percentage (.711) and home runs (five).

This marks the second Player of the Week honor of Denofrio’s SouthArk career, as she also was selected for the week ending May 1, 2022, during her freshman season.



Stars break into top 20

For the first time, the South Arkansas College Stars baseball team has cracked the NJCAA Division II top 20 weekly poll.

The national ranking came on Monday after the Stars (25-9, 14-2 in Region 2 play) swept Carl Albert State in four games last week, bringing their win streak to 13 games. They have produced three straight clean sweeps of region opponents and are in control at the top of the Region 2 standings.

They will play regional opponent Redlands (17-19, 9-7) at home in four games this week, beginning with a doubleheader at 2 p.m. on Friday at Field 4 of the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex. A second doubleheader is scheduled to start at noon on Saturday at the field.

As a team, the Stars are batting .317 with an on-base percentage of .438 and 41 home runs. Both Elijah Nichols (45) and Trace Shoup (43) are in the top five in the region in runs batted in. Hunter Royal (51) is in the top five in strikeouts, and Trey Miller (4) is in the top five in saves.

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Shoup takes weekly honor

For the second consecutive week, a member of the South Arkansas Community College baseball team has been selected as a NJCAA Region 2 Player of the Week.

Sophomore infielder Trace Shoup was selected for the honor for the week ending March 26 after Shoup batted .588 with three home runs, 10 RBIs and nine runs scored, and the Stars went 4-0 with a sweep over Region 2 opponent Rich Mountain.

Teammate Clay Burrows, also a sophomore, was chosen last week.

For the season, Shoup leads the team with a .373 batting average, a .691 slugging percentage and 110 at-bats. His on-base percentage is .463 with 35 RBIs—tied for fifth in the region.

Shoup’s selection also came during a week in which the Stars (21-9, 10-2 in Region 2 play) received votes for a Top 20 national ranking for the first time. They currently are atop the NJCAA Division II Region 2 standings. They will face Region 2 opponent Carl Albert State in a doubleheader beginning at noon on Thursday at the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex.

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