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Lobo trio named freshmen All-Americans

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By The Staff

University of New Mexico freshmen Carl Stajduhar, Tyler Stevens and Cory Voss were all named Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on Wednesday. It was the first time the Lobos have ever had more than one Freshman All-American in one year.

"This is a big, big deal," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said, "and it is well deserved. These are three outstanding young men."

A native of Fort Collins, Colo., Stajduhar set a new UNM freshman record for RBIs with 53. He led the team in hits (75), doubles (21), home runs (9), and total bases (127), and he was second in runs (45). He hit .322 and was the only Lobo to appear in all 59 games this season. His play earned him All-Mountain West Second Team honors, and he was also named to the Mountain West All-Tournament Team after hitting .353 (6-for-17) with two homers, two doubles and eight runs in UNM's five games in Reno, Nev., last month.

"Carl's work ethic is off the charts," Birmingham said. "He understands so much more now than when he first got here. Physically he's a talent, but mentally he's a big talent. He's going to be an impact player for us for the next two years, and then he's going to be a high draft pick after that."

Stevens was a teammate of Stajduhar's at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins last season, and this year he set UNM freshman records for wins (5) and ERA (3.44). His ERA led the team as we went 5-4 with two complete games in 13 starts and five relief appearances. He struck out 42, walked 21 and held opponents to just a .244 batting average. On April 12 he became the first Lobo in 50 years to throw a nine-inning complete-game one-hitter when he blanked Air Force 5-0. He faced just one over the minimum and retired the final 16 batters he faced. In the Mountain West Tournament on May 20 he tossed a seven-inning complete game against the Falcons, becoming just the second freshman in program history to have more than one complete game in a season.

"Tyler is a bulldog," Birmingham said. "He's going to be the same kind of impact player as Carl, and he's only going to get better. His big fastball and great secondary stuff make him a pitcher that can beat anybody in the country. He's going to wear a pro uniform someday too."

Voss also hails from the Centennial State, but he came to UNM by way of Pueblo. Named the Mountain West Co-Freshman of the Year, he hit .345 with 14 doubles, five triples and five home runs to lead the Lobos in slugging at .546. He drove in 35 runs, scored 34 and posted an on-base percentage of .431 all while playing the most demanding position on the diamond. Among all freshman catchers in the NCAA he finished second in batting and third in both slugging and OBP. No catcher of any class recorded more triples than he did.

Birmingham compared Voss to perhaps the greatest player in Lobo history: former All-American and 2013 first-round draft pick DJ Peterson.

"Cory has the same hand speed and potential as DJ," he said. "His year was just as good as DJ's freshman year, and he has the chance to be as good as DJ if he approaches the game in the same way and makes the necessary adjustments in the next few years."

The Lobos are one of eight programs to have three players honored, and if you glance at the other seven — Cal, Michigan, Long Beach State, Oregon State, Vanderbilt, Louisville and Florida — you will see quality programs that UNM is comparable to.

"The future looks bright for UNM," Birmingham said. "This class and our next recruiting class are special. These are Omaha-type recruiting classes. You look at the other teams with three and that's an indicator of who we are. That's how close we are to getting to Omaha in June."

Los Alamos' Jared Mang has signed a letter of intent to play ball with UNM next year. Mang was recently named New Mexico's Gatorade Player of the Year for baseball for a second consectutive season.

UNM has now had eight Freshmen All-Americans in Birmingham's eight years, and it is the fifth straight year a Lobo has been so honored. Rafael Neda was the first in 2008, and he was followed by DJ Peterson (2011), Ryan Padilla (2012), Sam Haggerty (2013) and Danny Collier (2014).