Hitter of the year: Southland crowns Russell, name 4 Cards to first team; Adames gets weekly award

Published 7:08 pm Monday, May 23, 2016

Reid Russell turned his first season at Lamar in a record-tying campaign for home runs. On Monday, the Southland Conference richly rewarded him for it.

Russell won the conference’s Hitter of the Year award after closing out the regular season with a home run in three of the past four games. The junior transfer from Tyler Junior College homered in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader and Saturday’s single game at Stephen F. Austin, helping the Cardinals post a much-needed sweep.

“It’s pretty cool. A lot of hard work went into it,” said Russell, of Longview. “It’s really special to me, but the job’s not done yet. I think with winning that, it’s not going to mean anything unless the team is successful.”

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He now has 18 home runs on the season, tying a Lamar record set by Michael Ambort in 2005. His 62 runs batted in is the most since Ambort’s 63 in 2007.

Russell also leads a contingent of four Cardinals who were named first-team All-Southland on Monday: senior shortstop Stijn van der Meer, junior catcher Bryndan Arredondo and senior pitcher Will Hibbs. Senior first baseman Jake Nash is a third-team selection, and senior outfielder Jacoby Johnson and junior pitcher Jimmy Johnson were named honorable mention.

The all-conference honors were released one day after freshman utility man Robin Adames was named the Southland Hitter of the Week. Adames, a .292 hitter, hit .500 against SFA, crushing two of his three home runs on the week in the series opener and driving in a total of six runs while scoring four more. Adames was 4 for 4 in his two-homer game.

“All Adames has to do is mature in every way, physically, mentally and emotionally,” Lamar coach Jim Gilligan said. “When he matures, it’s because he’s an above-average [player]. You don’t see too many freshmen come in and hit the way he has. And he looked good behind the plate [as a catcher], which was another good thing.”

Russell’s Hitter of the Year resume includes a .363 hitting average with 40 runs scored, 73 hits, nine doubles and a .687 slugging percentage. His biggest highlight from 2016 — so far — is a five-game streak of home runs from March 13-20 (against Northwestern State, Houston and Central Arkansas), when he hit one each.

He closed his case for the top hitter award by pounding two hits each in four of the last five games.

The Cards will take on Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of the Southland tournament at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. Lamar swept UCA 19-5, 7-6 and 9-2 in Beaumont in mid-March.

“I think we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing this whole time, which we’ve been hitting the ball good the whole season,” Russell said. “Not really changing a whole lot up. Just playing good defense and keep pitching good and keep swinging the bats like we have been.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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