IRVING, Texas – Baylor baseball had 11 student-athletes named to the 2016 Academic All-Big 12 Team, the league announced Thursday. The Bears have now had 10 or more honorees in five straight seasons.
BU’s 11 selections (seven first team, four second team) mark the eighth season in a row with at least nine honorees and ranked tied for third in the league in total selections behind Oklahoma State (14) and Texas (13). In the league’s 20-year history, Baylor has earned 127 first team selections, which are 40 more than any other team in the league. Oklahoma State ranks (87) second, followed by former member Nebraska (74) and Texas (74), Kansas (69), Oklahoma (68), Kansas State (63), Texas Tech (62), former member Texas A&M (33), TCU (18) and West Virginia (12).
The Bears’ first team choices were redshirt freshman outfielder Richard Cunningham (finance), sophomore outfielder Levi Gilcrease (political science), junior pitcher Theron Kay (music composition), redshirt junior catcher Matt Menard (finance), junior outfielder Darryn Sheppard (management information systems), redshirt junior pitcher Drew Tolson (finance) and senior West Tunnell (health, kinesiology and leisure studies).
Cunningham was selected for the first time in his career in his first year of eligibility for the honor, as were Gilcrease and Kay, who were both 2015 Big 12 Academic All-Rookie Team honorees. Sheppard repeated as a first team choice, while Menard, Tolson and Tunnell earned the distinction for the third time.
Baylor’s second team members were junior catcher/first baseman Aaron Dodson (finance), senior pitcher Kody Hessemer (health, kinesiology and leisure studies), redshirt sophomore infielder Steven McLean (management information systems) and redshirt sophomore Kyle Ott (health science studies).
Dodson is a two-time choice along with McLean and Ott, while Hessemer received the accolade for the first time.
First team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA while the second team selections hold a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA. To qualify, student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters and must have participated in 60 percent of their team’s scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated for a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation are also eligible.