Four members of the Florida baseball team garnered 2021 SEC Baseball Awards on Monday, as announced by the conference office. Outfielder Jud Fabian was named First Team All-SEC and to the SEC All-Defensive Team, while left-handed pitcher Hunter Barco (Newcomer All-SEC Team), catcher Nathan Hickey (Newcomer All-SEC Team), and outfielder Sterlin Thompson (Freshman All-SEC Team) earned recognition as well.
For Fabian, the 2021 SEC accolade marks the outfielder’s second in as many years. After hauling in a Second Team All-SEC nod as a second-year player in 2020, the Ocala, Fla. native upped his game with a First Team award in 2021. Fabian’s 20 home runs this season rank second in the SEC, effectively making him just the fifth player in Florida baseball history to hit 20 or more long balls in a single season. The Gator outfielder also finished the regular season tied for sixth in the conference in walks (37), tied for seventh in total bases (122), tied for 11th in runs scored (49), and 12th in slugging percentage (.604). Overall, Fabian is slashing .257/.372/.604 on the year with 10 doubles, 46 RBI, and five stolen bases to go with his aforementioned power output.
Defensively, Fabian made just two errors over the course of the regular season while manning center field for the Gators. As a result, he turned in a .984 fielding percentage and recorded two outfield assists. That defensive excellence powered Fabian to SEC All-Defensive Team honors in addition to his First Team All-SEC status in the outfield.
En route to hauling in Newcomer All-SEC Team honors, Barco concluded the regular season tied for third in the conference in wins with a 9-2 record. Pitching in his first full season of collegiate play, the southpaw posted a 4.04 ERA across 14 regular-season starts with a .242 batting average against and 92 strikeouts in 75.2 innings pitched – good for a 10.9 strikeouts-per-nine. Additionally, Barco ranks 11th in the SEC in innings and 13th in strikeouts.
Currently wielding a team-high .307 batting average, Hickey is one of just two Gators to start all 54 of Florida’s games in 2021. The Gator backstop’s Newcomer All-SEC accolade also comes accompanied with a .429 on-base percentage, .515 slugging percentage, eight home runs, two triples, 14 doubles, 47 RBI, 35 runs, and one stolen base on top of turning in a .993 fielding percentage behind the plate. Hickey ranks fourth in the SEC in walks (40), tied for seventh in doubles, and 13th in on-base percentage.
As a true freshman in 2021, Thompson is hitting .306/.413/.469 in his debut season in Gainesville. The Gator right fielder’s Freshman All-SEC Team nod is backed by four home runs, three triples, eight doubles, 34 runs, 22 RBI, 21 walks, and two stolen bases. Thompson has appeared in 49 total games for Florida this season, including 45 starts. His three triples are tied for the fifth-most in the conference.
With the regular season now in the rearview, these four All-SEC recipients and the remainder of the Florida team turn their attention to the 2021 SEC Baseball Tournament, scheduled for May 25-30 in Hoover, Ala. As the No. 6 seed, the Gators open up play on Tuesday, May 25 with a matchup against 11th-seeded Kentucky at 10:30 a.m. ET with coverage on SEC Network. Fans can also tune in on radio via WRUF850 AM/98.1 FM in Gainesville, 1010XL in Jacksonville and on any mobile device via the TuneIn app (search for the “Florida Baseball” station).