Coker christened as South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year; three others earn All-SAC honors

ROCK HILL, S.C. - Lincoln Memorial University senior outfielder Josh Coker was christened as the South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, headlining a list of four Railsplitters arrayed with postseason accolades, the league office announced on Wednesday with the unveiling of the SAC regular-season baseball awards. Along with Coker, who also earned All-SAC Second Team as a reliever, Kelvin Brito and Jean Rodriguez were named to the All-SAC Second Team while Kyle Floyd was an honorable mention selection.

Josh Coker (Murphy, N.C.) joins men's golf's Rand Wasson (Norris, Tenn.) and men's basketball's Vincent Bailey (Jennings, Fla.) by collecting South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year laurels. The Murphy, North Carolina native fronted a lethal offensive attack for the Railsplitters (26-15-1, 16-8 SAC), which led the SAC in runs scored, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, by posting one of the most prolific individual seasons in program history.

Coker compiled a slash line of .373/.754/.452 (batting/slugging/on-base), ranking sixth, first and fourth in the conference, respectively, in those categories. Additionally, he finished the regular season ranked second in the SAC in home runs with 13, fourth in RBI with 44, fifth in total bases with 107 and fifth in doubles with 15 two-baggers. Coker has placed himself in elite company nationally in several of those categories as he ranks third in the NCAA Division II in homers, sixth in slugging and 21st in total bases.

Coker hit safely in 35 of his 41 games played this season, racking up 14 multiple hit games and 12 multiple RBI games. From March 3 until March 8, the Walters State Community College transfer went on an absolute tear, going 7-for-15 with 12 RBI and four home runs during a five-game stretch, becoming the first NCBWA National Hitter of the Week in program history. Coker's .754 slugging percentage currently ranks second in Lincoln Memorial's single-season history, while his 13 dingers are tied for the sixth-most in the school record book.

Coker's bat sizzled in nearly every situation, but it truly came alive when it mattered the most. He finished the regular season batting .382 with runners on base, .667 with the bases loaded, .434 with runners in scoring position and .750 with a runner on third and less than two outs.

Along with capturing SAC Player of the Year and All-SAC First Team distinctions, Coker was voted by the league's coaches to the All-SAC Second Team as a relief pitcher. Coker posted a stingy 2.70 ERA with a 1-1 record, 20.0 innings pitched and 14 total appearances. Over that stretch, Coker finished first in the South Atlantic Conference with eight saves, which sets a new school single-season record. The previous benchmark was seven, compiled by Ray Burchell during the 2008 campaign. He averaged nearly a strikeout per inning with 19, while holding opponents to a .263 batting average against.

After partnering with Coker to wreak havoc in the middle of the Railsplitters' batting order all season, junior Kelvin Brito (Yabucoa, Puerto Rico) was named the All-SAC Second Team first baseman. Brito's slash line is nearly identical to Coker as the Yabucoa, Puerto Rico product finished the regular season batting .378, slugging .622 and reaching base at a .429 clip, ranking third in the SAC in batting average and sixth in slugging. The Indian Hills Community College transfer finished third in the league in home runs with 11, third in RBI with 46 and ninth in hits with a team-leading 59. Brito currently resides in 13th in the D-II national ranks in home runs and 26th in RBI.

Brito accounted for a team-leading 19 multi-hit games with a remarkable tally of eight three-hit outings. Brito was second on the team to only Josh Coker with 11 multi-RBI contests. For his outstanding debut with the Railsplitters, Brito was named the Male Newcomer of the Year at the annual LMU Athletics Banquet on Tuesday evening. Brito was one of many players on the Railsplitters' roster who stepped up when scoring opportunities arose as he hit .446 (41-for-92) with runners on and .431 with runners in scoring position. With two outs, Brito was a gaudy 21-for-52 for a .404 mark.

Joining Brito, sophomore second baseman Jean Rodriguez (Caguas, Puerto Rico) was also named to the All-SAC Second Team. After redshirting the 2013 campaign, Rodriguez made an immediate impact in his first season of competition with the Railsplitters, batting .301 with 40 hits, seven doubles, a team-high three triples and 19 RBI. Rodriguez was the Railsplitters' leading base stealer, as the Caguas, Puerto Rico native finished seventh in the South Atlantic Conference with 14 stolen bases on only 16 attempts. Rodriguez added a team-high 94 infield assists.

Rodriguez was one of only four players for the Railsplitters with at least 10 multiple hit games as he posted 12 along with five multiple RBI affairs.

Junior catcher Kyle Floyd (Windsor, Ill.) was named All-SAC Honorable Mention, and he earned the nod for that award after compiling a .317 batting average with 33 hits, eight doubles, one homer and 24 RBI. Floyd also drew 14 walks and was hit by a pitch five times to account for a .423 on-base percentage. In addition to his work in the batter's box, Floyd was a rock behind the dish, compiling a .989 fielding percentage with 150 putouts and 25 assists. Floyd gunned down 11 runners attempting to steal this season.

Floyd's offensive numbers took a significant leap with the pressure on as he hit .320 with runners on, .444 with runners in scoring position and a gaudy .857 with runners on third and less than two outs. The Windsor, Illinois native and transfer from Kaskaskia Community College posted nine multiple hit games during the regular season.

The Railsplitters matched the program record for South Atlantic Conference wins with 16, earning the No.3 seed (ties school mark for highest league finish) for the approaching 2014 Food Lion SAC Championship. Lincoln Memorial drew fourth-seeded Newberry for the opening-round match-up, which is set to be played at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 24 at McNair Field in Forest City, North Carolina.
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2014 South Atlantic Conference Baseball Awards

SAC Player of the Year: Josh Coker, Lincoln Memorial
SAC Pitcher of the Year: Craig Brooks, Catawba
SAC Freshman of the Year: Shaefer Shepard, Catawba
SAC Co-Coaches of the Year: Jim Gantt, Catawba/Jeff Gregory, Wingate

All-SAC First Team
C - Jonathan Zalud, Anderson
1B - Steven Cooper, Anderson
2B - Brantley Rumford, Lenoir-Rhyne
SS - Craig Brooks, Catawba
3B - Ryan Cranmer, Newberry
OF - Ivan Vieitez, Lenoir-Rhyne
OF - Josh Coker, Lincoln Memorial
OF - Nate Galliford, Anderson
DH - T.J. Wharton, Catawba
SP - Craig Brooks, Tusculum
SP - Olen Little, Wingate
SP - Shaefer Shepard, Catawba
RP - Ryan McClintock, Catawba

All-SAC Second Team
C - Josh Clark, Wingate
1B - Kelvin Brito, Lincoln Memorial
2B - Vinny Ferrara, Tusculum
2B - Jean Rodriguez, Lincoln Memorial
SS - Evan Rogers, Mars Hill
3B - T.J. Giczkowski, Coker
OF - Bo Ausmus, Carson-Newman
OF - Eric Serra, Wingate
OF - Keaton Hawks, Catawba
DH - Taylor Foster, Tusculum
SP - Ben Currie, Wingate
SP - Wesley Camp, Newberry
SP - Jake Nidiffer, Newberry
RP - Josh Coker, Lincoln Memorial

All-SAC Honorable Mention
C - Kyle Floyd, Lincoln Memorial
1B - Paul Kronenfeld, Catawba
SS - Michael Godinez, Wingate
3B - John Topoleski, Tusculum
OF - Blake Houston, Catawba
OF - Ernie Kirkwood, Coker
OF - Alex Kirby, Newberry
DH - Eric Barbieri, Newberry
SP - Cole Cromer, Newberry
SP - Landon Beck, Anderson
SP - Caleb Edwards, Mars Hill
RP - Daniel Nations, Newberry

SAC Gold Glove Team
C - Jonathan Zalud, Anderson
1B - Dalton Eisenbath, Mars Hill
2B - Julio Zubillaga, Catawba
SS - Brett Cash, Anderson
3B - John Topoleski, Tusculum
OF - Tommy Scala, Mars Hill
OF - Alex Kirby, Newberry
OF - Bo Ausmus, Carson-Newman
P - Wesley Camp, Newberry


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