Payton Harden wins Southland Conference Player of the Year
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Payton Harden has been the heartbeat of the McNeese baseball program.
“He’s such a great personality and such a great heart and he cares so much and he’s got all of those things the tangibles and intangibles that you want from a player,” said McNeese Head Coach Justin Hill. “I’m excited for him and like I said he’s self-made and he makes a lot of people look good... including myself sometimes.”
Harden made Hill look good for the get-go, as he started 56 games as a freshman, hitting .294. That impact isn’t is certainly not lost on Hill.
“He’s very mature for a guy who was an all-region player as a freshman, said Hill. “A big top-of-the-order guy for us as a first-year player and he has kind of ‘been there, done that’ now and continued to be a great player.”
Harden was more than just a great player in 2022, leading the Southland in batting average and hits while finishing top 10 in nearly every hitting statistic the conference keeps track of. For his efforts, he was named the Southland Conference Player of the Year.
“It’s just the work that I have been doing all year you know and it’s just everything is starting to come together,” said Harden. “ I feel good and my training and everything that I have put forth. I just try to come out every day and do my job and do what I need to do to help put the team in a position to win.”
He secured the honor after a strong season-ending series vs. Houston Baptist that gave the Cowboys the Southland Championship. Harden battled through a concussion he suffered the week prior to hit .571 on the weekend with a pair of home runs.
“We knew we had a big weekend coming up so, I knew that coming in it was going to be the perfect opportunity for me to come in and step in and that is what happened,” said Harden.
Harden and company will now open Southland Tourney play on Thursday right here at the Jeaux with the hopes of making it a threepeat of SLC tournament titles.
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