After winning the Southern Conference regular-season title in its first season, the Mercer baseball team dominated the conference awards Monday.
Sophomore center fielder Kyle Lewis was named the player of the year, and Bears head coach Craig Gibson was named the coach of the year. Both were honored by the conference’s media members and coaches.
Lewis batted .386 during the regular season and had 16 home runs and 50 RBI.
“How could you not vote him player of the year? That’s an easy choice,” Gibson said Saturday when discussing Lewis. “He’s had an unbelievable year, and he’s become a really, really good player for us.”
Lewis became the third player in program history to earn the conference’s top honor, joining Gibson and Chesny Young. Lewis led the conference in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage (.708) and total bases (143) and was among the leaders in doubles, hits and RBI.
He went down to the end of the season with a chance to win the conference’s Triple Crown (batting average, home runs and RBI).
“I’m extremely pleased because I believed in myself, and I had the confidence that I could do what I’m doing now,” Lewis said Saturday. “It was just a matter of time, and I’m starting to see it come together. I’m just really blessed, and hopefully, I can carry it over into the tournament and contribute any way that I can.”
Senior Eric Nyquist joined Lewis as a first-team pick by the coaches, while sophomore Matt Meeder and senior Morgan Pittman earned second-team honors. Trey Truitt and Jackson Ware were named to the all-freshman team.
Nyquist has a 7-2 record and a 3.79 ERA and was 5-1 in conference play. He will start the team’s conference tournament opener Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina. The Bears, who earned the top seed, will play either The Citadel or East Tennessee State.
“He’s going to be great; I think we have the best guy going,” Gibson said about Nyquist’s prospects in the tournament.