LAGRANGE, Ga. - Senior Kyle Eller was named the Great South Athletic Conference Player of the Year and fellow senior Alex Sanford garnered Pitcher of the Year honors to highlight 13 Huntingdon baseball players to be recognized on the GSAC’s All-Conference, All-Freshman and All-Academic teams, the league announced this weekend.
Also earning all-conference accolades for the Hawks was senior outfielder Shawn Bezwiechin and senior second baseman Josh Bennefield, who earned all-league honors for the second straight season. Freshman Austin White was named to the conference’s All-Freshman team, while the seniors Ben Cecil, Chad Green and Chris Knight, juniors Greg Clayton, Drew Harrell, Ryan Harrison and Ryan Payne, and sophomore Marty Stewart all were named to the All-Academic team.
In his final season with the Hawks, Eller, who was an all-conference performer as a junior as well, captured the team’s Offensive Triple Crown for the second straight season, posting career bests with 68 hits, a .420 batting average, 12 home runs and 68 runs batted in. He also added 17 doubles, two triples and 14 stolen bases, while chipping in 58 runs scored. He posted a slugging percentage of .772 and an on-base percentage of .508, while adding 11 outfield assists, all of which lead the team. The Birmingham native also led the GSAC in batting average, home runs, RBIs, hits, runs, doubles, total bases and at bats.
On the season, Eller has recorded 19 multi-hit games, including four games with four hits, and 15 multi-RBI games. He recorded a season-best, 13-game hitting streak early in the season and has hit safely in the last 12 games. Eller also currently leads the nation in RBIs, as he has driven in one more than Trinity’s (Texas) Evan Jones. Earlier this season, Eller picked up his 200th career hit and currently stands at 233 hits during his four-year career.
Sanford, who was also an all-conference selection last season, posted an 8-2 record and a 4.09 earned run average this season. The Prattville native has struck out 113 in 83 2/3 innings, a strikeout total which currently leads all of Division III. He has thrown two complete games and limited opponents to hit just .212 on the season.
During conference play, Sanford shined, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.50 earned run average in three starts. He struck out 37 hitters in just 24.0 innings, while allowing the league to hit .190 against him. On the season, Sanford has posted 10 or more strike outs in seven games, including a career-high 13 on three occasions.
For the second consecutive season, Bennefield was also named to the league’s all-conference team. The Pleasant Grove native finished second on the team with a .375 batting average, while leading the team and the GSAC in on-base percentage at .553. He has scored 54 runs, while driving in 23 more and has been hit by a team-high 16 pitches. He recorded seven stolen bases, while adding 11 doubles and leading the team with 35 walks and eight sacrifice hits.
Bezwiechin proved to be a force in the middle of Huntingdon’s line up in his final season, posting a .300 batting average with two home runs and 53 runs batted in. The Tallahassee, Fla., native also added 13 doubles and two triples, while leading the team and finishing third in the GSAC with 23 stolen bases. Bezwiechin finished four on the team with 40 runs scored and tied for second with 48 hits.
In his first season with the Hawks, White, a local product who prepped a LAMP HS, posted a .331 batting average, with a home run and 25 runs batted in. He added eight doubles and two triples, while swiping six bases. He pounded out 45 hits and scored 28 runs, while posting an on-base percentage of .411. He also walked 16 times and was hit by four pitches.
In order to be considered for the all-academic team, a player must be classified as a sophomore or higher and maintain a grade point average of 3.25 or better. Knight earned All-Academic honors for the third consecutive season, while Cecil was recognized for the second straight year.
Huntingdon ended its regular season with a 28-14 record on Sunday and will now await the NCAA’s announcement concerning Regional Playoffs, which will be announced in early May.