Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 22, 2018

9 baseball players named to SEC All-Conference teams

By Bill Gatchel | Jul 28, 2017
Photo by: File photo Collin Zear earned a spot on the first team All-Conference and also earned Academic All-Conference.

A total of nine Washington baseball players have been chosen for the 2017 Southeast Conference All-Conference teams, which is based on all-conference statistics.

The lone player to make it on the first team was Collin Zear as utility player.

Baseball coach Nathan Miller says it came down to how well he did on the field.

“When his statistics were looked at and with his offense, he hit around .340 in conference play,” he says.

“He was our ace on our staff. After he hadn’t been selected for first team pitcher, he really fit the mold of being a utility player.

“He pitched, played third, played second and had outstanding conference numbers to back it up.

“It was pretty much a unanimous choice and it was well-deserved.”

On the second team as pitcher was Jacob Hall.

“In conference, he was outstanding,” Miller says.

“He had a sub-one ERA and pitched very, very well. He only had three conference starts, but that’s because he threw against Clear Creek instead of Fort Madison at the start of the season.

“It just worked out that way with our schedule and the way we play games.”

Aaron Vittetoe was chosen for the second team as infield player.

“He was a fantastic defensive first baseman,” Miller says. “Arguably, [he’s] the best first baseman in the league; he saved us from several innings that would have been extended.

“He has a keen ability to pick a ball at first and he hit over .300 in conference play. That’s the line you look at in conference, that .300 average or above.

“We have a small conference and we do get quite a few guys on first and second team, but it comes down to the batting average and what kind of defense you have.

“With Aaron hitting over .300 and being just a solid defensive first baseman, it was a no-brainer for us to be on the second team.”

Ryan Loy was picked as an outfield player on the second team.

“His choice came from his offensive numbers,” Miller says.

“They were just outstanding. He led us in batting average and along with Michael Gier, they were both high leaders in runs scored.

“From an outfield standpoint, when we got around to the second team, those still left over from the first team voting, he had the best numbers from that group. He was a unanimous choice for second team.”

Zach Londberg was a designated hitter (DH) on the second team.

“His strength for us was his offense,” Miller says. “Our conference is forward-thinking.

“The All-District team does not have a designated hitter position, which is a shame because it is a major part of a lineup.

“It really fit him. With some of the adversity we had to face, he did have to slide out to left field a little bit and play there from time to time. But whenever we could DH him, he was that.”

Gier made the second team as a utility player.

“He was a great selection for this position,” Miller says.

“He played DH and played third. He hit very well in conference play and was deserving of that second team utility.

Receiving Honorable Mention nods were Noah Enfield and Bryce Craff.

“They are both seniors, but they are both productive,” Miller says.

“Noah arguably was one of the best defensive outfielders in our conference and our area.

“We are able to play our left and right fielders wider because of the amount of space he can take up in center field, which is huge.

“I think he had four assists from the outfield where he threw runners out trying to add bases.

“I know he threw three out at home and one at third. He’s a tremendous asset on the defensive side.

“Bryce Craff, behind the plate, has been a four-year guy for us. He got his batting average up to .280 this year.

“He battled an injury and he made our pitchers comfortable and he did a really nice job.

“He threw out quite a few runners at second base and just a guy we really counted on.”

Also receiving Academic All-Conference recognition were Hall, Enfield, Vittetoe and Zear. Joining them was Erik Murphy. Miller is pleased to see five make the list.

“We talked about that at our banquet that we want to see at least six next year,” he says.

“It really has to do with the total number of juniors and seniors because it’s only for them.

“We had 13 eligible guys and five made the team, so we want to try and get over that 50 percent mark.

“It’s an outstanding reflection of those guys. They are hard-working and successful for that reason.”

Even though nine made the overall list, Miller is pleased with the entire team and how well they did this year.

“For sure,” he says. “I’m pleased we had that many. Mt. Pleasant had nine. They were the conference champion and should have and did have the most. Then us and Fairfield, eight.

“It also shows the other programs about us as a competitive statement and the development of our kids.

“Both Gier and Loy were named to the All-District team recently, Gier for utility and Loy for an outfielder.

“There are 13 teams there. Those two had good enough numbers to make it on the second team All-District.

“In the long term, those that didn’t get in a lot of play this year, who stepped in while others were out with injuries, it’s going to be huge for us next year.

“They got some live at-bats and it will really help us out next year.”

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