Baseball: Four Sooners Voted All-Big 12 First Team

Juniors Craig Aikin (Coppell, Texas) and Kolbey Carpenter (Waco, Texas) led the way as unanimous selections for the University of Oklahoma baseball team on the All-Big 12 First Team as voted on by the league’s coaches. The Sooners landed four players on the First Team; the second most in the league and the most for OU since 1998.

Aikin, the Oklahoma center fielder, was a two-time All-Big 12 Second Team selection prior to this season and ranks second on the team with a .349 batting average. He finished the regular season tied for first in the conference with Carpenter in hits at 82 and ranked second in runs scored with 47. Aikin leads the Sooners with 14 doubles on the year, which ranks seventh in the league. For the season, he has totaled 22 multi-hit games, including three four-hit games and an OU record six-hit effort against Arkansas-Little Rock on March 3.

Carpenter is a first time All-Big 12 selection and has earned starts at four positions this season; 36 of which have come at second base. After just 100 at-bats as a sophomore, he cemented himself in the Sooner lineup hitting sixth, lead-off and now third. Carpenter is second in the Big 12 in hitting and first on Oklahoma at .363. He is also second in the league with a .549 slugging percentage and tied for third with a team-leading eight home runs. Carpenter was selected the Big 12 Player of the Week on three occasions; the most in the league this season and just the third player to ever earn the award three times in a year. He was also honored as a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week in February.

Joining Aikin and Carpenter on the First Team are junior Anthony Hermelyn (McKinney, Texas) and sophomore Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas). Hermelyn, who split his time between catcher and first base, earned his way on to the First Team in the utility spot. He is riding a 10-game hit streak that has lifted his average to .316 on the season with five home runs and a league-leading 47 RBI. Hermelyn was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on April 6 after the Sooners completed a home sweep over Kansas.

Neuse solidified the Oklahoma shortstop position this season after earning Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2014. He is a repeat First Team honoree and was named Big 12 Player of the Week on March 9. For the season, he is hitting .287 with 39 RBI on six home runs to go with a team-high 10 stolen bases.

The Sooners pitching staff was well represented on the All-Big 12 Second Team with redshirt-seniorRobert Tasin (Klein, Texas) and junior Jacob Evans (Broken Arrow, Okla.) among those honored. Tasin, a right-hander, was thrust into a weekend starting spot for the second series of Big 12 play after a stellar relief appearance in a win over Texas Tech. Overall, he is 8-2 with a 2.64 earned run average and 52 strikeouts in 71.2 innings of work, which includes 10 starts and seven relief outings. Tasin has posted a spotless 5-0 record in Big 12 play; the most conference wins in a season by a Sooners since 2011.

The left-handed Evans resumed the closer role this season; a role that earned him All-Big 12 Second Team as a freshman in 2013. He owns a perfect 5-0 record with a 1.79 ERA and eight saves; which is third in the league. In 40.1 innings, all out of the bullpen, Evans has totaled 52 strikeouts to 10 walks, while holding opponents to a .232 average. His season was highlighted with a win over Kansas on April 2 in which he started a ninth-inning rally with a lead-off single to erase a four-run deficit, pitched a scoreless top of the 10th and lead off the bottom with a walk-off home run.

Sophomore right-handers Jake Elliott (Coppell, Texas) and Alec Hansen (Loveland, Colo.) along with freshman infielder Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) were each recognized as All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. In the Friday starter’s role, Elliott is 4-5 with a 2.92 ERA and 80 strikeouts, ranking fourth in the Big 12. Hansen is 5-6 with a league-leading 93 strikeouts to go with a 4.05 ERA. Mendenhall has burst on to the scene as of late and sports a .260 average, but is hitting at a .357 clip in 14 Big 12 starts, including six multi-hit games and three three-hit games.

Nine overall honorees is the most for Oklahoma since 2013. In 1998, the Sooners placed a program-best five on the All-Big 12 First Team. The only other year Oklahoma has had four players honored with First Team recognition was 1997; the inaugural season of the Big 12.

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