Five Bears earn academic All-District honors

CONWAY — The University of Central Arkansas had five baseball players named to the 2024 College Sports Communicators (CSC) Division I Academic All-District team on Monday.

Jesse Barker, A.J. Mendolia, Drew Sturgeon, Tanner Leonard and Mason Griffin were named to the All-District team. Barker, who was an Academic All-American a year ago, will also advance to the national ballot again this season.

The academic all-district teams recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances on the diamond and in the classroom. The CSC Academic All-America® program separately recognizes

baseball honorees in four divisions — NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, and NAIA.

First-, second- and third-team Academic All-America® honorees will be announced July 2, 2024. 

Barker, a graduate right-handed pitcher from Benton, Ark., was the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year and finished his career as the Bears’ career strikeout leader with 287.

Mendolia, a senior first baseman from Fort Worth, Texas, was a fixture in the UCA lineup for the past four seasons and ended his career in the top five in games played and started, and with 201 career hits and the school record for walks with 136.

Sturgeon, a graduate center fielder from Farmington, Ark., has patrolled the UCA outfield for four seasons and played in 201 games, hit 18 home runs and stole 46 bases.

Leonard is a junior second baseman from Searcy, Ark., who has already graduated with a master’s degree in health Promotion and has played in 143 games for the Bears.

Griffin, a right-handed pitcher from Rogers, Ark., made 46 appearances for the Bears after transferring from Arkansas Tech. He also earned his MBA from UCA.

Barker and Mendolia were both named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Academic team last month.