Payton Harden’s postseason is going to be almost as rewarding as his year on the field.
On Wednesday, the McNeese State midfielder was named Southland Conference Baseball Student-Athlete of the Year.
That will be accompanied by his conference Player of the Year honors. He was one of four Cowboys selected to the all-academic first team.
With him in the squad are shortstop Reid Bourque, reliever Cameron Foster and leftfielder Julian Gonzales, a two-time roster. Pitcher Chance Stone was named to the second team.
Harden, who led the conference in batting averages of .378, hits (85) and stolen bases (26), posted a 3.82 mass communications/public relations average.
Harden, who is two goals short of achieving the top school grade of 254, could do so next year, when he returns for one final season.
“I haven’t made a decision yet,” Harden said recently. “I’ll wait and see what happens.”
He is likely to wait for the July 17-19 amateur baseball game before making a decision.
“I think Payton has a chance, but you never know,” said McNeese head baseball coach Justin Hill. “We want the best for them all, but if it doesn’t work out, we welcome him back with open arms if he wants to come.”
Foster is likely to be called up as both Bourque and Gonzales have exhausted their eligibility.
“You won’t get credit for this if you don’t do everything,” Hill said. “You have to be good in class and on the field. It says a lot about all the boys and their future.”
Gonzales, Bourque and Foster all posted 4.0 GPAs. Foster, who was named Southland’s Relief Pitcher of the Year, made his mark in behavioral science.
Foster led the Southland in six categories, including saves (12), ERA (1.86), strikeouts (84), batting average against (.164), hits allowed (35) and runs allowed (17). He placed second in the conference in walks (20) and was named a third-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Gonzales, who attends medical school, took his 4.0 in biology/pre-med. He started in all 57 games for the Cowboys and hit .280 with nine homeruns with 44 runs batted in, tying him as team leader of the season.
Gonzales is also a College Sports Information Director of America Academic All-American.
Bourque, who studied health and human performance/sports wellness management. After a slow start, Bourque hit .276 last season with four homeruns and 25 RBI’s. He also had 24 stolen bases.
Bourque ended his career as the all-time Cowboys leader in stolen bases and games played.
Stone earned a spot in the second team after recording a 3.66 GPA in health and human performance/prephysical therapy. After Tommy John surgery the year before, Stone was in third place on the team with 501/3 innings pitched and set a 3-3 record with a 5.01 ERA. He started a team-high 15 games and made 17 overall appearances.