BAY CITY, Mich. – Junior first baseman Justin Childers (Pickerington, Ohio) was tabbed as the GLIAC Baseball Player of the Year, the first Ohio Dominican baseball player to earn that award, and a total of six Panthers were recognized in voting conducted by the conference's head coaches.
Childers was joined on the first team by seniors Kyle Burson (Brunswick, Ohio) and Tony Evans (Medway, Ohio), as well as junior Lee Sponseller (Mason, Ohio). Sophomores Colin Kaucher (Toledo, Ohio) and Brad Wilson (Alexandria, Ohio) were each tabbed as Honorable Mention All-GLIAC picks.
Childers batted .451 with 14 home runs, 17 doubles, five triples, 60 RBIs, 62 runs scored and 18 stolen bases while slugging .846 with a .526 on-base percentage. He leads the nation in slugging percentage and ranks second in batting average, 12th in OBP and 13th in runs scored. Childers also ranks in the top 25 nationally in total bases (seventh), hits (17th), RBIs (19th) and triples (24th). His batting average is tied for the fourth-best mark in GLIAC single-season history and his home run total is in the top-10 as well.
Childers closed the season with a 14 game hitting streak and had two or more hits in 12 of those games, hitting .609 with six homers, 25 RBIs and 14 walks in that stretch. On the season, he had 28 multi-hit games and 19 multi-RBI games, earned two GLIAC Player of the Week awards, and was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team.
He's the first Panther since Vince Doster in 2007 to be named conference player of the year (AMC). In three seasons with the Panthers, Childers is hitting .363 with 22 homers, 122 RBIs, 32 doubles and 137 runs scored in 145 games.
ODU's everyday shortstop for the last three years, Burson set career highs in nearly every offensive category this spring, batting .323 with three homers, eight doubles, 19 RBIs and 29 runs scored. He finished with a .393 OBP and a .427 slugging percentage and led the GLIAC in assists with 146. On the mound, Burson finished with a 4-3 record and a 4.02 ERA, logging 40.1 innings on the mound.
For his career, Burson appeared in 169 career games and had a lifetime .284 batting average, six homers and 59 RBIs.
A Second Team All-GLIAC pick in 2015, Evans set a career high in every offensive category. He batted .342 and led all GLIAC second basemen in homers (12) and slugging (.642). Evans also scored 57 runs, drove in 35, tallied 16 doubles and was a perfect 12-for-12 in stealing bases. He finished third in the league in runs scored and total bases, fifth in homers, sixth in slugging and seventh in triples (three) and steals. Evans also excelled defensively, ranking fourth in the GLIAC in assists (123) and second in double plays turned (40).
In four years with the Panthers, Evans batted .320 in 145 games played, scoring 124 runs and driving in 83. He also stole 29 bases.
This is the second time Sponseller has been named First Team All-GLIAC after picking up that honor, along with GLIAC Freshmen of the Year honors, in 2015. The outfielder batted .341 with 14 homers, 11 doubles and 37 knocked in this spring. He also walked a GLIAC-best 41 times, which led to a .474 on-base percentage, and slugged .665. He ranked second in the league in homers, fourth in slugging and eighth in OBP, and his 46 runs scored were also the ninth-best mark in the conference.
Sponseller earned GLIAC Player of the Week honors in April, the fifth time he has earned that award in his career, and was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team last week. In 131 career games, Sponseller has a .367 batting average with 26 homers, 108 RBIs, 32 doubles, 100 walks and a .488 OBP with a .626 slugging percentage.
Kaucher served as ODU's cleanup hitter for most of the spring and batted .362 with three homers, 15 doubles and 42 RBIs. He also had a .446 OBP while slugging .511. The Panther backstop ranked 10th in the GLIAC in RBIs, was 11th in OBP, hits (63), doubles and walks (24) and his batting average was 14th in the league. Kaucher was named the GLIAC Player of the Week after helping ODU to a season-opening sweep of West Liberty.
In 93 career games, Kaucher has hit .333 with 66 RBIs, to go along with a .404 OBP and 21 doubles.
Wilson finished the season with a 6-3 record in 13 appearances (10 starts) to go with a 3.86 ERA. He struck out 50 batters in 58.1 innings pitched and threw two complete game shutouts. The shutouts were the most in the conference, and Wilson ranked fourth in the league in wins and eighth in ERA. The 50 strikeouts are the 14th most in the GLIAC and he issued just 16 walks as well. Wilson also did not surrender a home run this season.
In two seasons with the Panthers, Wilson has an 11-7 mark in 22 starts with a 3.72 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 125.2 innings pitched while walking just 34.
Ohio Dominican finished the season with a 25-24 record and went 16-16 in the GLIAC, a 10-win conference improvement under first-year head coach Chris Antonides.
Contact: Scott Miles