LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Danny Collier earned Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors and four other Lobos were named to the All-Mountain West teams the conference announced Wednesday. Sam Haggerty, Alex Real and Chase Harris were named to the first team and Josh Walker was a second team honoree.
“There are lots of good players in the this conference,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. “There are some future big leaguers that are All-Mountain West this year, and there are some future big leaguers who didn’t make it either.”
Collier’s .384 average was second in the conference behind Player of the Year Jordan Luplow of Fresno State, who hit .470. The freshman out of Sandia High School in Albuquerque missed 11 games to a hamstring injury, but that didn’t bother the league’s coaches, who voted for the teams.
“Danny Collier is a great story,” Birmingham said. “He’s a New Mexico boy from Sandia, and he had the second best average in the conference. That’s a big deal.”
Collier scored 12 runs, drove in nine and hit two doubles and two triples for a .466 slugging percentage. He also showed great plate discipline and an advanced approach, walking eight times versus just five strikeouts. Numerous times during the season he would foul off pitch after pitch with two strikes before finding one he could put in play for a base hit.
"It's an honor and humbling to receive this award because I had to fight through an injury for most of the season," Collier said. "I am just happy I was able to help my team win a regular season championship."
It’s the second straight season a freshman from UNM has earned Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors as Haggerty shared the award with Fresno State’s Blake Quinn in 2013. Haggerty was also a second team second baseman last season, but he earned the first team nod at shortstop this year while leading the conference with 30 runs scored in MW play. He also set a new conference record for assists with 106 while playing both second base and shortstop. He was one of just three sophomores on the first team and finished second in the league with 44 hits.
Real also made the jump from second team to first at a different position this season. He was the second team DH/Utility last season but is the first team catcher after hitting .344 and leading the team in doubles (12) and RBIs (29). He enters the tournament second in the entire nation in doubles with 25 on the season.
Harris, meanwhile, led UNM in batting (.355), slugging (.537), OBP (.430) and in both triples and home runs with three apiece. He also drove in 28 runs, scored 25 and stole four bases. He was UNM’s most consistent run producer all season and started all 30 conference games in right field for the Lobos.
Walker was UNM’s lone pitcher represented, and he went 5-2 with an ERA of 3.56 in 10 starts that ranked ninth in the league. His 73.1 innings were third in the conference, and he struck out just 23 but walked only nine and did not throw a single wild pitch. The senior is one win away from tying both the UNM and conference records for career wins. He’ll have a chance to earn career victory No. 27 Thursday at 4 p.m. MT when UNM plays its first game of the conference tournament against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.