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Mault, Hardy cement regular-season dominance with league's top awards

The regular-season dominance of Austin Peays top two pitchers was cemented by each receiving one of the Ohio Valley Conferences top awards. Senior Jeff Mault was named the leagues Pitcher of the Year while sophomore Rowdy Hardy earned Rookie of the Year recognition. Both pitchers also were first-team All-OVC honorees, the Govs only two players named to that squad.
The regular-season dominance of Austin Peay's top two pitchers was cemented by each receiving one of the Ohio Valley Conference's top awards. Senior Jeff Mault was named the league's Pitcher of the Year while sophomore Rowdy Hardy earned Rookie of the Year recognition. Both pitchers also were first-team All-OVC honorees, the Govs' only two players named to that squad.

Mault received his second consecutive All-OVC honor (he was named All-OVC as a relief pitcher in 2003) after a 2004 campaign that saw him become the Govs No. 2 starter at the season's midpoint. Despite the change, he settled in quickly, amassing 10 wins faster than any OVC pitcher and the sixth-fastest among Division I pitchers in 2004. He becomes the Govs' fifth Pitcher of the Year honoree, joining Jamie Walker (1992), Shane Dortch (1994), Craig Smith (1996) and Mike Weel (2000). Austin Peay now joins Southeast Missouri with five all-time Pitcher of the Year honorees.

Hardy made a huge impact in his first season at Austin Peay, taking over the No. 1 starting spot and setting a school record with 12 victories during the regular-season. He leads the league in victories, earned run average (2.64), innings pitcher (112.2), opponents batting average (.238) and hits allowed per nine innings (8.15). He went 7-0 against OVC opponents with a league-leading 2.30 ERA in conference play. He is the Govs first Rookie of the Year honoree in the fifth year of the award.

“They are both very deserving of the awards they received,” says Austin Peay Head Baseball Coach Gary McClure. “To have two pitchers make first-team All-OVC is outstanding, especially when there are only two spots on that team. Both Jeff and Rowdy have an obvious impact on the regular season in this league. Jeff has had back-to-back phenomenal years, earning All-OVC recognition last year. Rowdy has had a great year and has been our go-to guy all season.”

Junior first baseman Chris Hyde (.304, 11 HR, 39 RBI) was named second-team All-OVC for the second consecutive year. He was joined on the second-team by sophomore catcher Tommy Smith (.327, 1 HR, 22 RBI), senior outfielder Alfredo Burkeen (.336, 4 HR, 22 RBI) and junior designated hitter Chris Poynter (.404, 3 HR, 27 RBI). Junior third baseman Jared Walker (.370, 5 HR, 50 RBI) earned honorable mention.
—Cody Bush