For the third straight year, LeTourneau University baseball is in the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament. The YellowJackets (15-20) enter the upcoming tournament as the No. 5 seed.
In a new format in 2016, the competition is split into two four-team tournament brackets, followed by the best-of-three games set between the bracket winners. Concordia, the No. 1 seed, is hosting the Blue tournament bracket, and ASC regular season champion. No. 2 seed East Texas Baptist is hosting the Red tournament bracket. LeTourneau will take part in the blue bracket, where they will face UT-Tyler on Friday at 3:00 p.m. The other two teams in the bracket are Concordia and UT-Dallas, and they will play at 7:00 p.m. The winners of the Blue and Red brackets advance to the Gold bracket for a best of three-game series hosted by the highest remaining seed. The Gold bracket winner is the ASC champion and earns automatic qualification to the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship.
With a win in the series finale on Sunday against UT Dallas, LeTourneau vaulted from the No. 8 seed to the No. 5 seed. Senior catcher Taylor Empkey, who leads the offense with 22 RBI to go along with a .289 batting average, 39 hits, and eight doubles, will lead the YellowJackets. Junior second baseman Kyle Jacobs along with Empkey has led the LETU offense with three home runs to go along with 32 hits and a .286 batting average.
On the mound, LeTourneau will be led by senior Boone Privette and freshman Andrew Harlan. Privette enters the weekend with a 3-1 mark and a team-best 3.14 ERA in eight appearances to go along with two complete games and a team-high 49 strikeouts. Harlan has a 4-6 mark with a 4.0 in a team-high 74 innings of work to go along with a team-high five complete games to go along with 38 strikeouts.
Earlier this season, UT Tyler won two of the three games in the series with LeTourneau taking the series opener on March 24, 7-3 in Tyler. Admission to the games is $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens per day. As a reminder, fans are reminded of the ASC pet policy within the confines of the facility. Concordia University will provide live audio, video and statistics of the action for those not in attendance.
LeTourneau University senior catcher Taylor Empkey (Bedford, Texas) of the baseball team received the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) Academic All-District Baseball First Team honor for his combined performance athletically and in the classroom.
Because of his first-team selection, he will advance to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.
Plus, Empkey recently received the R.G. LeTourneau Legacy Award at the 2016 Winter/Spring Sports Banquet. LeTourneau University School of Theology and Vocation named him its Outstanding Student. He served as a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at LeTourneau and inducted into the Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges.
Empkey and the YellowJackets will be making its third-straight appearance for the first time in program history to the ASC Baseball Tournament on Friday. He leads LETU with 22 RBI to go along with a .289 batting average, 39 hits, and eight doubles.