Tide's Matthes SEC Player Of Year
"Kent Matthes had a great year and deserves this honor," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "It has been great to sit in the dugout and watch him do the things he has done this year. He has had a great year and put up some incredible numbers. You read sometimes about guys having years like this, but he usually isn't on your team. This year we have that player and it has been fun watching him on and off the field."
He is the first Alabama player to win SEC Player of the Year honors since the league began presenting the award in 1993.
"It is a great honor to be recognized by the best college baseball league with all the talented players we have in the SEC," Matthes said. "It is an honor to be named SEC Player of the Year and to be able to accomplish the feat as a senior. This has been an incredible season and I am happy to be a part of this team."
"I was looking to take advantage of my senior year and make the most of it. I worked hard in the off-season with Dax (Norris) and I got hot early and hit a lot of home runs and they kept coming. I tried to stay focused on winning each game and not the stats."
The Orlando, Fla., native was the unanimous SEC Player of the Year, after hitting .362 with a 27 home runs and 79 RBI for the Crimson Tide this season. He led the SEC in home runs, total bases (166) and slugging percentage (.883) and was second in the league with 79 RBI. He was also third in runs scored (63) and sixth in hitting this season.
Matthes tied the Alabama single-season record with 27 home runs, which ties him for the national home run lead with Middle Tennessee State's Bryce Brentz. Matthes slugged his 27th home run of the season in the Tide's regular season finale at Auburn on May 16 to tie Doug Duke's single-season home run record set in 1986.
"It's been a great year for Alabama," Matthes added. "I am glad that I have helped this team get to where we are now. If I am hitting home runs and driving in runs; that means people are on base and we have a chance to win."
He has four multi-home run games and one walk-off home run this season. In addition, 15 of his 27 home runs have tied the game or given Alabama the lead, including 10 go-ahead home runs. He also has nine game-winning RBI.
In March, he set the Alabama record with a home run in six straight games and was twice named National and SEC Player of the Week. He hit for the cycle on Feb. 24 against Nicholls Stand and followed that up with a walk-off 10th inning home run the next day.
Matthes also joined LSU right-hander Louis Coleman as the only two unanimous First-Team All-SEC picks this season. In SEC play, Matthes led the league in slugging (.774) and ranked second with 13 home runs. He was sixth in RBI (35) and 10th in on-base percentage (.449) in 29 league games.
Matthes also holds the Alabama career record with 23 outfield assists, breaking the previous record of 22 outfield assists held by Scott McClanahan from 1999-2002. He has seven outfield assists this season.
"Coach Wells told me at the beginning of the season, he wanted be to be a complete player," Matthes said. I think I was able to accomplish that this year."
Matthes will lead No. 4 seed Alabama into the 2009 SEC Tournament on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. CDT against No. 5 seed South Carolina in the final first-round game at Regions Park. The Crimson Tide and the Gamecocks have not met since the Tide won the regular season series in Tuscaloosa in 2007.
Matthes first career home run came in the 2006 SEC Tournament when he hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run against LSU on May 24.
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