By ROY ALLEN
Seward assistant athletic director
Following a very successful season that saw them capture the Jayhawk West Championship and finish 3rd at the NJCAA Region VI Tournament, five Seward County Saints have been named to the Jayhawk West All-Conference teams. The Saints had four 1st Team selections led by pitchers Tyler Wiedenfeld and Hayden Howard along with first baseman Troy Owen and the conference’s Freshman of the Year, outfielder Bryson Allen. West Point bound Johnny Griffith was a 2nd Team pick for Seward at third base. The Saints had more 1st Team choices than any other Jayhawk school, in fact, no other school had more than two (Colby) players chosen to the top team.
Seward ace Tyler Wiedenfeld was the only of the twelve 1st Team All-Conference members to be chosen unanimously to the team. Wiedenfeld was a perfect 8-0 in Jayhawk West games this season, posting a 2.00 ERA in the process. Wiedenfeld is the first Jayhawk Conference pitcher since the turn of the century to win his start in every conference series of the year and is the first pitcher in Jayhawk Conference history to do so that didn’t receive the Most Valuable Player award, which went to fourth place Colby’s Jake Nath. Wiedenfeld ended the regular season as the NJCAA’s win leader with an 11-2 record and finishes his sophomore season with an 11-3 record to go along with a 2.61 ERA in 97 innings pitched this year.
Fellow rotation member Hayden Howard was also named to the 1st Team in his freshman season. Howard was electric down the stretch for Seward, going 5-0 with a 1.10 ERA in his final five starts of the Jayhawk West season. He finished the year with an 8-3 record and posted the second lowest ERA in a single season in school history at 1.69. Howard struck out a team high 68 batters and was second on the team to Wiedenfeld with 74 2/3 innings pitched.
Bryson Allen won the league’s Freshman of the Year award in a landslide and was picked as a 1st Team All-Conference member after a stellar first season in green and white. Allen hit .431 in Jayhawk West Conference games in 2013, 46 points higher than MVP Jake Nath who was second among West outfielders. Allen also led all Jayhawk West outfielders in triples, home runs, and runs scored during his rookie campaign. Allen led the Saints in hitting this season, finishing with a .391 batting average and was also tops on the squad in six other major categories including runs (60), hits (90), doubles (15), triples (10), home runs (5), and stolen bases (10).
Troy Owen was nearly a unanimous choice to the 1st Team by the league’s coaches at first base for the Saints. Owen put up big numbers for Seward in the middle of their order this season, hitting .364 with 9 doubles and 24 RBI’s in conference play. Overall on the year Owen finished at .330 while tying Allen for the team lead in doubles with 15 and finishing third on the team with 39 RBI’s.
The head scratcher of the selections came at third base where despite leading all third basemen in hitting by 73 points during Jayhawk West Conference play, Saints three bagger Johnny Griffith was chosen to the 2nd Team rather than the 1st Team. Griffith hit .438 in conference play and had 8 doubles and 22 RBI’s for the Saints during their Conference Championship season. Griffith finished the season hitting .377 overall and was second on the team with an OPS of .986 while cracking 14 doubles and driving in 28 runs on the year.
Despite winning the league with the Jayhawk’s most inexperienced team this season, Seward Head Coach Galen McSpadden was bypassed as Coach of the Year in favor of second place Garden City’s Chris Finnegan.