SoCon coaches select all-conference baseball teams
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/18/2015
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Mercer's Kyle Lewis
Courtesy: Mercer University
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis has been voted the Southern Conference Player of the Year, Citadel left-hander James Reeves the Pitcher of the Year, Samford designated hitter Austin Edens the Freshman of the Year and Mercer’s Craig Gibson the Coach of the Year in voting by the league’s nine head coaches. The coaches, who were not allowed to vote for themselves or their own players, also selected two all-conference teams and an all-freshman squad.

The top three teams in the SoCon standings accounted for the majority of the all-conference selections, with regular-season champion Mercer putting two on the first team and two on the second team. Runner-up Samford had five total selections and four first-team picks, both league highs, and third-place Wofford had three second-team selections among its school-record four total honorees.

Lewis ranks in the top 10 in the SoCon in several offensive categories, pacing the league in batting average (.386), slugging percentage (.708), total bases (143) and home runs (16). The sophomore from Snellville, Ga., is second in the conference with 78 hits and is tied for fourth with 17 doubles. His .433 on-base percentage ranks seventh in the league and his 50 RBIs are good for eighth. Also the Southern Conference Sports Media Association’s pick for Player of the Year, Lewis was the SoCon Player of the Week on March 23 and May 4 and the Player of the Month for March. So far this season, Lewis has posted 28 multiple-hit games, including a 5-for-5 showing against UNCG on April 26, and 13 multi-RBI contests. He becomes the Bears’ first-ever Player of the Year selection.

With a 7-3 record on the season, Reeves is tied for second in the SoCon in wins, while his 3.44 ERA is second in the league among qualifying pitchers and first among starters. The redshirt junior from Summerville, S.C., is holding opposing batters to a league-low .222 average and he has struck out 103 batters, good for second in the SoCon, in 83 2/3 innings pitched. A two-time SoCon Pitcher of the Week this season, Reeves was the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Pitcher of the Week and a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week after no-hitting league-leading Mercer on April 2. Reeves struck out 14 and walked just two in The Citadel’s first no-hitter since 2002 and just the sixth in school history. Reeves has reached double digits in strikeouts three other times this season, also notching 14 in the season-opener against Air Force and notching 12 in a win over ETSU and 10 against UNCG.

Edens becomes the second straight Samford player to earn Freshman of the Year honors, following in the footsteps of teammate Heath Quinn. Also the first-team All-Southern Conference selection at DH, Edens is fourth in the SoCon with a .358 batting average and .637 slugging percentage. The rookie from Baton Rouge, La., is also tied for fourth in the league with 13 home runs and is fifth with a .438 on-base percentage. Edens is tied for ninth in the conference in doubles (15) and total bases (123). He was a two-time SoCon Player of the Week, earning the award on March 30 and again on April 20. Edens also earned Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week plaudits on April 20 after hitting five home runs in a four-game stretch.

Gibson led Mercer to the SoCon regular-season title in and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Mountain Shore Properties in its first season in the league. The 12th-year skipper guided the Bears to a 31-21 overall record and 16-7 SoCon mark, with Mercer losing just one league series all year. Gibson’s charges earned six weekly honors and two monthly accolades from the SoCon and went 20-10 to end the regular season after starting the year 11-11. The coach-of-the-year award is Gibson’s second in three seasons, as he was honored by the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2013 when he led the Bears to 43 wins and the league’s regular-season title.

Lewis was joined on the all-conference first team by Mercer starting pitcher Eric Nyquist. Reliever Morgan Pittman and shortstop Matt Meeder earned second-team honors for the Bears.

Samford matched its school record with four first-team selections. Joining Edens on the squad were reliever Andres Gracia, third baseman Hunter Swilling and outfielder Quinn. Gracia is a first-team selection for the second straight season. First baseman Alex Lee earned a spot on the second team.

Wofford placed first baseman Conor Clancey on the first team and starting pitcher Matthew Milburn, outfielder James Plaisted and designated hitter Matt Ramsay on the second team.

The Citadel, Furman, Mercer and VMI put two players each on the 12-member all-freshman team.

2015 SoCon Baseball All-Southern Conference Team

Player of the Year – Kyle Lewis, So., OF, Mercer
Pitcher of the Year – James Reeves, R-Jr., LHP, The Citadel
Freshman of the Year – Austin Edens, DH, Samford
Coach of the Year – Craig Gibson, Mercer

First Team
SP    James Reeves, The Citadel
SP    Eric Nyquist, Mercer
RP    Andres Gracia, Samford
C    Matt Winn, VMI
1B    Conor Clancey, Wofford
2B    Bradley Strong, Western Carolina
SS    Jordan Tarsovich, VMI
3B    Hunter Swilling, Samford
OF    Connor Walsh, The Citadel
OF    Kyle Lewis, Mercer
OF    Heath Quinn, Samford
DH    Austin Edens, Samford

Second Team
SP    Ryan Clark, UNCG
SP    Matthew Milburn, Wofford
RP    Morgan Pittman, Mercer
C    Danny Bermudez, Western Carolina
1B    Alex Lee, Samford
2B    Trey York, ETSU
SS    Matt Meeder, Mercer
3B    Chris Ohmstede, Furman
OF    Eric Kalbfleisch, UNCG
OF    Will Connerley, VMI
OF    James Plaisted, Wofford
DH    Matt Ramsay, Wofford

All-Freshman Team
Drew Ellis, The Citadel
JP Sears, The Citadel
Hagen Owenby, ETSU
Blake Chisolm, Furman
Will Gaddis, Furman
Trey Truitt, Mercer
Jackson Ware, Mercer
Andrew Wantz, UNCG
Austin Edens, Samford
Brandon Barbery, VMI
Collin Fleischer, VMI
Adam Scott, Wofford
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