May 24, 2011
CAMDEN, N.J. - Senior Billy Barber headlined a group of four Richmond baseball players that earned spots on the 2011 Atlantic 10 All-Conference team, which was announced Tuesday by the league office. Barber is the Spiders' first honoree on the First Team since 2006.
Complete All-Conference Team
Joining Barber were senior RF Mike Mergenthaler and junior C Chris Cowell, who earned Second Team mention, while freshman SS Mike Small was named to the All-Rookie Team.
Richmond (26-25-2) is in Camden, N.J. preparing for the team's first A-10 Tournament since the 2007 season. The fifth-seeded Spiders play fourth-seeded Xavier Wednesday at 12 p.m. at Campbell's Field.
For Mergenthaler, it marks his first A-10 postseason honors since an All-Rookie selection in 2008. Both Barber and Cowell were Second Team picks last season, while Small is the Spiders' sixth All-Rookie winner since 2006. Before Barber, Richmond's last player on the A-10 First Team was outfielder Ben Zeskind in 2006.
Barber brings a seven-game hitting streak into the A-10 Tournament and his .354 average in league play leads the Spiders. The two-way player, who splits time at first base and designated hitter, missed the first half of 2011 due to an off-season foot injury. Barber ripped a walk-off single earlier this season in a 4-3 win over St. Bonaventure, after recording seven game-winning RBI last season. The slugger from Fredericksburg, Va. stands sixth all-time at Richmond with 36 career homers and owns a .328 career average. He also has 12 wins and seven career saves on the mound.
Mergenthaler continues to climb the Spider career charts in a number of categories and the right-fielder leads the Spiders in home runs (seven), doubles (16), RBI (41) and stolen bases (16) this season. The ironman is the only Spider to start every game this season and has missed just three games over his 202-game college career. A native of Rockland, N.Y., Mergenthaler leads the A-10 and owns the second-most outfield assists in the NCAA this season (11) and his eighth-inning three-run homer versus Saint Louis won the key late-season series for the Spiders. All-time at Richmond, the senior ranks fourth in RBI (162), 10th in homers (31), eighth in hits (241) and sixth in at-bats (809).
Cowell has been on a late-season tear, earning the A-10 Player of the Week honor twice over the final four weeks of the regular season. The junior catcher hit .360 (18-for-50) over the Spiders' final 14 games with 12 RBI, four doubles and four homers. He finished the regular season hitting .288 (.353 in A-10 play) with five homers and 17 RBI and committed just two errors in 158 chances.
Small earned a spot on the All-Rookie Team although playing just nine conference games before suffering a season-ending injury at No. 1 Virginia on April 20. The slick-fielding shortstop had started Richmond's first 37 games before the injury and still finished third on team with 23 RBI. The Wheaton, Ill. Native reached base safely in a team-best 21-straight games midseason and finished hitting .299 overall (.324 in A-10 play). At the time of his injury, Small was among the A-10 leaders in double plays and chances.
Xavier's Ben Thomas was named the A-10 Player of the Year, junior Andrew Smith of Charlotte was the Pitcher of the Year, while fellow 49er teammate Tyler Barnette was named A-10 Rookie of the Year. Rhode Island's Jim Foster was tabbed Coach of the Year and Charlotte's Cory Tilton was recognized as the Student-Athlete of the Year.