When the Southland Conference released its awards and all-conference teams on Monday, one name stood out from among the rest.
Stephen F. Austin shortstop and Denton High alum Hunter Dozier was named the conference player of the year and the hitter of the year after a tremendous junior season with the Lumberjacks.
The shortstop was also a first-team all-conference selection.
Dozier is currently tied for third in Division I with 17 home runs. The former Bronco leads the conference in batting average (.394), slugging percentage (.759), RBIs (50) and doubles (23).
Dozier is only the third player from SFA to be named the conference’s top player and hitter.
The Denton native said he’s honored to be recognized for the work he’s put in and the award is something he figured he could attain.
“I always thought I could, and it was one of my goals,” he said. “But a lot of people set big goals and stuff. I knew it was possible. It was just kind of a long shot. So it means a lot, and I’m pretty excited how everything turned out and how everything’s starting to look,” Dozier said.
The future is looking bright for the 6-foot-4, 220-pound shortstop. He currently is ranked as the No. 39 draft prospect by Baseball America for the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Dozier is currently a semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award, which goes to the nation’s top shortstop. He’s also a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top player.
Dozier said if his draft stock remains the same, he will forgo his senior season with the Lumberjacks and begin his pro baseball career.
“Where they’re talking about drafting me, for sure I’m going to go, just start my pro-ball career and hopefully everything keeps going the way I want it to go,” Dozier said.
SFA head coach Johnny Cardenas said Dozier has played a role in every single one of the Lumberjacks’ 28 wins. SFA enters the Southland Conference tournament as the No. 6 seed and faces No. 3 Oral Roberts at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“Really, this year we expected him to be, you know, one of the top hitters in our conference,” Cardenas said. “But to say we expected him to be the player of the year or expected him to do or accomplish the things he accomplished, I think that would be a little overstepping what we thought would happen.”
Prior to the start of the season Dozier was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association first team, coming off a season in which he was a first-team All-South Central Region selection. He was also the first shortstop in school history to be named to the all-conference team.
Dozier said his time playing during last summer and extra time in the weight room has helped him improve in what could possibly be his final season of college baseball.
When asked to pinpoint a specific instance of Dozier’s on-field prowess, Cardenas failed to find a singular example that stood out and instead opted to look at the gaudy numbers his shortstop posted this season.
“Our offense was predicated to work around him, and to his credit, he brought it every day,” Cardenas said. “There really wasn’t one instance where you were like, ‘Oh my gosh. He was really, really good.’ He has been phenomenal all year long.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.