All-NACC Baseball Awards Announced

The NACC has announced its major award winners and all-conference team for the 2019 baseball season.
The NACC has announced its major award winners and all-conference team for the 2019 baseball season.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (naccsports.org) --- The Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) has announced its major award winners and all-conference teams for the 2019 baseball season.

Concordia University Chicago senior outfielder Connor Brandon (Joliet, Ill.) earned NACC Position Player of the Year, while Rockford University junior Zack Jones (Rockford, Ill.) was named the NACC Pitcher of the Year. Dominican University pitcher Bryant Bagshaw (Lake Havasu City, Ariz.) is this year's NACC Freshman of the Year and Concordia Chicago's Mike Stawski has been named NACC Coach of the Year.

Brandon and Jones were also named to the All-NACC First Team, while Bagshaw was a second-team selection.

All honors were selected by vote of the league's head coaches.

Brandon, a unanimous selection for both NACC Position Player of the Year and the All-NACC team, is one of the leaders of the veritable murderers' row that is the CUC lineup. In 42 games, he has hit .377 (57-of-151) while leading all NACC players in doubles (15), RBIs (58), total bases (110) and slugging percentage (.728), and ranking second in home runs (10). Brandon has also drawn 20 walks and been hit by a pitch eight times to produce a .475 on-base percentage, good for sixth among NACC players, and was 9-for-11 on stolen bases. Overall, he has registered a hit in 33 of 42 games, including multiple hits on 15 occasions highlighted by a 5-for-6 performance with two home runs and four RBIs in a 17-6 win at Illinois Tech on April 7. Brandon has also had multiple RBIs in 17 games, topping out with five in a pair of games - April 17 against Lakeland and April 22 at Dominican.

In NACC play, Brandon was an absolute menace at the plate, posting 37 hits in just 81 at-bats for a .457 batting average. He led the league in home runs (7), RBIs (39), total bases (75), on-base percentage (.551) and slugging percentage (.926), while ranking second in batting average, doubles (11) and runs scored (34), and third in triples (3).

Defensively, Brandon committed just three errors in 88 total chances for a .966 fielding percentage.

This is the sixth consecutive season a CUC player has been named NACC Position Player of the Year.

Jones had a spectacular season on the mound for the Regents, posting a 5-1 mark in nine appearances (eight starts) with a 1.68 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. He allowed one earned run or less in five of his eight starts and struck out at least 10 batters on five different occasions, including four times against NACC competition. Jones finished the season with perhaps his best start of the year, throwing a complete game, two-hit shutout while striking out a career-high 14 batters at Wisconsin Lutheran on May 10. 

The junior righty finished the season at or near the top of the league in nearly every pitching category. Jones led the NACC in ERA, strikeouts, WHIP (0.87), hits allowed per nine innings (5.32) and was tied for the conference lead in complete games (4). He also finished fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (11.93), fifth in innings pitched (64.1) and tied for eighth in wins (5). Opponents hit just .167 against him, which is the lowest for any Regent pitcher with at least four starts since the creation of the NACC.

Nationally, Jones ranks amongst the best in all of NCAA Division III in five different categories -- WHIP (12th), hits allowed per nine innings (13th), strikeouts (19th), strikeouts per nine innings (25th) and earned-run average (28th).

Jones is the first Rockford baseball player to be selected NACC Pitcher of the Year and the second to bring home a NACC major award. Fabian Gomez captured an all-encompassing Player of the Year award in the NACC's inaugural 2007 season before the award was split the following season. 

Bagshaw made 11 starts on the mound for the Stars, posting a 9-1 record with a 3.82 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings. He set the Dominican program single-season mark for victories (previous mark, 7) and tied the NACC record for wins in a season. Bagshaw topped out at nine strikeouts on two occasions - at Lakeland on April 28 and against CUW in the NACC Tournament on May 10. The Stars won all but one of his 11 starts. Bagshaw is the first Dominican player to earn a NACC major award. Current DU head coach Steve Hardman shared NACC Coach of the Year honors in 2012.

Stawski, who reached 200 career victories earlier this season, was honored by his NACC peers for the third time (2016, 2017, 2019) in his four years at the helm of the Concordia Chicago program. Under his guidance, the Cougars posted a NACC all-time best 21-1 record in league play en route to a program-best 35-5 mark during the regular season and a seventh-straight NACC title. CUC takes a 38-7 mark into this weekend's NCAA regional, remaining in pursuit of consecutive 40-win seasons for the first time in program history and a third-straight trip to the final site of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship.

The Cougars have been the league's top scoring team, pushing across 384 runs in 45 games entering NCAA regional play. Much of that damage has been done with the long ball, as CUC has a league-best 44 home runs and is currently even with Aurora atop the league's doubles chart with 98. All of those extra bases, along with a NACC-leading 193 walks, have produced a .320/.420/.492 team slash line. Concordia Chicago also possesses a league-best 2.97 earned-run average while averaging 7.14 strikeouts per nine innings.

All-Conference Team Announced
Ten NACC schools are represented on the 25-player All-NACC Baseball Team, with regular-season champion Concordia Chicago and tournament champion Aurora placing six individuals apiece. Both schools had four first-teamers and a pair of second-teamers. Benedictine University, Dominican University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Marian University and Rockford University each had two honorees, while Concordia University Wisconsin, Lakeland University and Milwaukee School of Engineering had one all-NACC player apiece. For Marian and Rockford, both of their selections landed on the All-NACC First Team. Benedictine, Lakeland and MSOE accounted for the remaining first-team honorees. 

2019 All-NACC Baseball Team

Position Player of the Year - Connor Brandon, Concordia Chicago
Pitcher of the Year - Zack Jones, Rockford
Freshman of the Year - Bryant Bagshaw, Dominican
Coach of the Year - Mike Stawski, Concordia Chicago
First Team School Yr. Pos. Hometown High School
Nicholas Mathey Aurora Sr. P Parker, Colo. Legend
Cole Carman Concordia Chicago So. P Littleton, Colo. Arapahoe
Nathan Hemmerling Lakeland Fr. P Riverside, Calif. Citrus Hill
Jordan Bock Marian Sr. P Sugar Grove, Ill. Kaneland
Zack Jones Rockford Jr. P Rockford, Ill. Harlem
Jett Wedekind Aurora So. C Princeton, Ill. Princeton
Sean Meyer Marian So. 1B Oconomowoc, Wis. Oconomowoc
Hunter Fiorito Rockford Sr. 2B Batavia, Ill. Lake Park
Bryan VanDuser Concordia Chicago Sr. 3B Plainfield, Ill. Plainfield North
Jeffrey Mayes Aurora Sr. SS Hoffman Estates, Ill. Hoffman Estates
Jose Mercado Concordia Chicago Sr. SS Medellin, Colombia Liceo Salazar y Herrera
Connor Brandon Concordia Chicago Sr. OF Joliet, Ill. Joliet Catholic
AJ Gill Aurora Jr. OF Jacksonville, Fla. Middleburg
Jack Feeley Benedictine Jr. OF Naperville, Ill. Metea Valley
Nick Gross MSOE Sr. DH Brookfield, Wis. Marquette University HS
Second Team School Yr. Pos. Hometown High School
Davis Purviance Aurora Sr. OF Lockport, Ill. Lockport
Chris Roycroft Aurora Sr. P Villa Park, Ill. Willowbrook
Alexander Schram Benedictine So. P Aurora, Ill. Waubonsie Valley
Adam Gregory Concordia Chicago Jr. P Palos Heights, Ill. Alan B. Shepard
Brody Mariotti Concordia Chicago So. 1B Yorktown, Ind. Yorktown
Lukas Meerdink Concordia Wisconsin Sr. P Oostburg, Wis. Oostburg
Bryant Bagshaw Dominican Fr. P Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Lake Havasu
Frankie Sessa Dominican Jr. 1B Las Vegas, Nev. Centennial
Nick Bledsoe Illinois Tech So. SS Crete, Ill. Marian Catholic
Michael Courtney Illinois Tech So. OF Willow Springs, Ill. Lyons Township
Honorable Mention School Yr. Pos. Hometown High School
Austen Dart Concordia Wisconsin Sr. OF Algoma, Wis. Algoma
Nick Dugandzic Marian So. C Waterford, Wis. Waterford Union