Bowden Named SAC Baseball Player of the Year


ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Chance Bowden and Jim Gantt headline Catawba’s 2018 South Atlantic Conference Baseball Postseason Honors. Bowden, a first baseman was named Player of the Year, while Gantt earned Coach of the Year honors. Lincoln Memorial’s Ethan Elliott was named the Pitcher of the Year and Anderson’s Chandler Castleberry SAC Freshman of the Year, rounding out the top honors from the league that was announced on Tuesday.
Bowden, from Salisbury, N.C., becomes the ninth Catawba player to earn the top honor. The senior has had a phenomenal year for the Catawba Indians, finishing the regular season ranked No. 1 nationally in hits with 82, No. 2 in RBI with 64, No. 2 in total bases with 158 and No. 4 in home runs with 18. He was named SAC AstroTurf Player of the Week three times this season. He was also named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Southeast Region Player of Week and he was named NCBWA National Hitter of the Week. The league leader in nearly every offensive category, Bowden has a .396 for the year, with 38 extra base hits and has had 24 multi-hit games. He was also awarded the top fielding award at first base.

Gantt earns his tenth Coach of the Year honor after guiding the Catawba Indians to their sixth-straight conference championship. It marked Gantt’s 11th regular season championship to go along with seven tournament crowns. His squad leads the SAC in several statistical categories including, slugging percentage (.518), on-base percentage (.426), doubles per game (2.54) and home runs per game (1.64). Under his leadership, Catawba has had four SAC AstroTurf Player/Pitchers of the Week, two NCBWA Region Players of the Week and one NCBWA National Hitter of the Week this season.

Joining Bowden on the All-SAC first team is outfielder Luke Setzer. The senior followed up his Player of the Year campaign a year ago by hitting .305 this year entering the league tournament. He has connected on 14 home runs with 51 RBI. Setzer has also had 16 doubles with seven stolen bases. Setzer claimed the league’s fielding award in right field.

Second team honors went to Jackson Raper and Heath Mitchem. Raper, a sophomore third baseman, is hitting .341 with eight homers and 38 RBI. he stands second on the team with 20 doubles and has scored 42 runs. Mitchem, a junior designated hitter, has a .385 average. He has connected on four home runs, driving in 27 and scoring 37 runs.

Honorable mention honors went to outfielder Kyle Smith, second baseman Joe Butts and relief pitcher DJ Laxton. Smith, a senior, is a .355 hitter with a team-high 23 doubles. He has hit six homers, knocked in 38 runs and scored 52 times. Butts has produced 62 hits in his freshman campaign, hitting for a .343 average. He has four homers and 37 RBI. Laxton, a junior, has a 5-1 record with a pair of saves and a 2.83 ERA. Over 41 and a third innings he has allowed 37 hits with 48 strikeouts.
Elliott, a junior left-handed pitcher from Knoxville, Tenn., made 12 appearances on the mound this year for the Railsplitters, posting 7-3 record. He threw 81 and two-thirds innings, including two complete games, allowing just 27 earned runs on 71 hits with 106 strikeouts and only 16 walks. He is ranked third in the nation in strikeouts, is ranked No. 30 in strikeouts per nine innings with an average of 11.68 and he is also ranked No. 21 in strikeout-to-walk ratio, with a 6.63 ratio.
Castleberry, an outfielder from Waxhaw, N.C., saw action in 48 games this season, batting .288 with 10 doubles, 15 home runs and 53 RBI. He is ranked second in the league in home runs and is third in runs batted in.  Castleberry had 16 multi-hit games this season and drove in at least one run in 25 games.
The SAC baseball awards will be presented at the 2018 Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tenn. on Friday, April 27, between games four and five. Catawba plays its first game on Friday at noon.
2018 SAC Baseball All-Conference
All-SAC First Team
OF – Justin Dean, Lenoir-Rhyne
OF – Luke Setzer, Catawba
OF – Jarel McDade, Tusculum
1B – Chance Bowden, Catawba
2B – Daulton Martin, Tusculum
SS – Colin Allman, Newberry
3B – Christian Stampler, Mars Hill
C – Matt Honeycutt, Mars Hill
DH – Bradley Brown, Wingate
SP – Ethan Elliott, Lincoln Memorial
SP – John Grigg, Lenoir-Rhyne
SP – Dillon Cate, Carson-Newman
RP – Landon Whitson, Lenoir-Rhyne
All-SAC Second Team
OF – Logan Augustine, Lincoln Memorial
OF – Danton Hyman, Newberry
OF – Chandler Castleberry, Anderson
1B – Dillon Carpenter, Anderson
2B – McCann Mellett, Wingate
SS – Tyler Adams, Lincoln Memorial
3B – Jackson Raper, Catawba
C – Ethan Goforth, Carson-Newman
DH – Heath Mitchem, Catawba
SP – Austin Turgeon, Wingate
SP – Charles Hall, Tusculum
SP – Zac Brown, Mars Hill
RP – Will Gardner, Carson-Newman
Honorable Mentions
OF – Kyle Smith, Catawba
OF – Derek Olenchuk, Newberry
OF – Will Reddick, Lincoln Memorial
1B – Alex Reynolds, Lenoir-Rhyne
2B – Joe Butts, Catawba
SS – Tyler Miller, Anderson
3B – Brett Langhorne, Carson-Newman
C – Nate Montgomery, Tusculum
DH – Colby Skeen, Tusculum
SP – Ryan Harbin, Newberry
SP – Joe Bobiak, Lincoln Memorial
RP – DJ Laxton, Catawba
Top Fielders
RF – Luke Setzer, Catawba
CF – Ty Andrus, Wingate
LF – Derek Olenchuk, Newberry
1B – Chance Bowden, Catawba
2B – Dalton Landsdowne, Newberry
SS – Tyler Miller, Anderson
3B – Brett Langhorne, Carson-Newman
C – Ethan Goforth, Carson-Newman
P – John Grigg, Lenoir-Rhyne
Player of the Year: Chance Bowden, Catawba
Pitcher of the Year: Ethan Elliott, Lincoln Memorial
Freshman of the Year: Chandler Castleberry, Anderson
Coach of the Year: Jim Gantt, Catawba

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