LAKE ERIE (28-18, 22-11 GLIAC) at 2014 GLIAC TOURNAMENT
The top six Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams are convening in Xenia, Ohio, this (extended) weekend for the 2014 GLIAC Tournament. Lake Erie is one of those teams – by way of placing third in the regular season, LEC is the No. 3 seed in the double-elimination tournament.
Lake Erie will face No. 4 seed Tiffin in game one on Thursday (5:30 p.m.). The other competing teams in Xenia are Grand Valley State-Mich. (No. 1), Wayne State (No. 2), Saginaw Valley State-Mich. (No. 5) and Ashland (No. 6).
The Storm head into the tournament having already posted the program's best season to date. Lake Erie's No. 3 seed is their best in three (consecutive) visits to the GLIAC Tournament; the team is currently ranked fifth in the Midwest Division (NCAA-II Coaches) – that's a new program best; and LEC's 28 wins are also a new high-water-mark for a program instituted in 2002.
Pitching and defense and a good mix of youthful and veteran talent have been primary ingredients to Lake Erie's success. The Green & White own a would-be program-record ERA of 3.91, and a sure-fire new mark in fielding (.963). The offense has had a mostly down year but has come along late, and the Storm head into the tournament knowing they have fared well against most of the foes they'll see. That includes No. 1-seed Grand Valley, which Lake Erie swept, three games to none, in mid-April (April 18-19).
The 2014 Storm have a mantra: a simple, three-word representation of how they want to go about their business – "Start to Finish." The next four days in Xenia will go a long way to determining what that finish will be.
ON THE AIR: Lake Erie Athletics will broadcast all of LEC's tournament games online. Broadcast start times will be 15 minutes prior to game times. The GLIAC will also be providing live stats for all tournament games.
RALEY GOOD FROSH: OF/1B Lucas Raley has been named 2014 GLIAC Freshman of the Year. The honor, awarded via a vote of the GLIAC's 12 head coaches, comes at the tail end of a season that has seen the 6-foot-3 freshman slugger pile up big numbers. Through May 7, Raley is batting .365 (58-of-159) with 10 doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 38 RBIs. He ranks in the league's top-10 in numerous categories including batting average (ninth), home runs (second) and slugging percentage (second). The Hinckley, Ohio, native was twice decorated as the GLIAC Player of the Week during the regular season. The circuit's freshman of the year has been spectacular in conference games. Raley batted .410/.470/.675 (batting/on-base/slugging) in 33 GLIAC games. Since April 12, he is batting .441 (26-of-59) with nine extra-base hits and 20 RBIs.
ALL-GLIAC: Raley was also named a First Team All-GLIAC selection. The All-GLIAC teams and award winners were announced by the league Wednesday evening. Two LEC players – 3B Zack DeCamp and P Heath Kelley – were tabbed as All-GLIAC honorable mentions. DeCamp is batting .327 (51-of-156) with a team-high 12 doubles this season. Kelley has appeared in 13 games this season (10 as a starter) and has logged a 2.29 ERA in 59 innings. …The 12-team league also announced its Player of the Year (Giancarlo Brugnoni-Grand Valley State), Pitcher of the Year (Evan Nietfeldt-GVSU) and Head Coach of the Year (Jamie Detillion-GVSU).
GOOD COMPANY: Raley's nine home runs and 58 hits put him in heady company in the LEC record book. Only one player – Ryan Rua (2009-11) – has hit more than nine home runs in an LEC season. And only three players (Rua, Brandon James, Matt Toth) have logged more than 58 hits in a season. Rua was a 17th-round selection in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft. He is currently playing for the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders in the Texas Rangers minor league system and is batting a robust .320/.407/.563.
RAGING ON: Lake Erie's 25 home runs this season are the most the program has had in a single season since 2010. … 2B Josh Hudeck heads to the GLIAC Tournament with an eight-game hit streak in tow. Over that stretch, Hudeck owns a .447 OBP. … With a home run in his last game, OF Aaron Lindgren now has 50 extra-base hits in his career. That total ranks fifth in program history; Rocky Pfisterer (72 extra-base hits, 2005-08) holds the program record.
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