Four Braves Named To Daktronics All-Region Squads
COLUMBUS, Ga. – Braxton Lewis and Jason Coker each garnered first team all-region status, while Keith Whitman and Brian Willis each earned a spot on the second team, with the release of the 2011 Daktronics All-Southeast Region Baseball Teams on Thursday afternoon.
The laurels by Daktronics marked the first of their kind for all four players who earned all-Peach Belt Conference status earlier this month. Willis (2010) and Coker (2009) have both previously earned all-region accolades from the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).
Coker, a first team all-conference selection, is one of just three (Josh Haley, Brad Bridgeman) Braves to play in all 53 games this season and has turned in a .315 (63-for-200) batting average with 24 extra-base hits (7 HR), 39 RBI and 43 runs scored. He is one of just two players on the squad (Eitan Maoz) with more walks than strikeouts and has booked 20 multiple-hit games, including a 4-hit outing in the series finale against then-No. 9 Georgia College, as well as 10 multiple-RBI contests. The Charlotte native has accounted for a trio of RBI against five different opponents this season, including Coker, North Georgia and USC Aiken.
Lewis, a first team all-PBC selection and PBC Tournament Most Valuable Player, has not allowed a run (earned or unearned) in 42-2/3 innings of relief work this season while recording a 6-0 record with a 0.00 ERA, nine saves and a pair of combined shutouts. The Seven Springs product has struck out 46 batters over his 24 relief appearances and has walked just four batters over his last 34-2/3 innings of work. He has surrendered just 12 hits in as many appearances (21.1 innings) against conference foes this season and has retired the sides in order in 16 innings from the hill in 2011.
Whitman, who broke UNCP's all-time home run record with his 41st career shot on April 25 against St. Andrews at home, totes a .366 (63-for-172) batting average that complements 14 doubles, 12 home runs, 42 RBI and 44 runs scored. The Elkin native boasts a conference-best .657 slugging percentage and ranks fourth among league leaders with a .479 on-base percentage this season, while also turning in 19 multiple-hit and a team-leading 15 multiple-RBI games. A second team all-conference selection as well, Whitman has collected a program-best nine multi-home run games over the last four years, including one in Thursday's NCAA Southeast Regional victory over No. 14 Columbus State.
Since being inserted into the starting lineup in mid-March, Willis has been a phenomenal asset for the Braves, recording a 7-1 record with a 1.85 ERA. He has yielded just 10 earned runs in nine starting nods this year, while striking out 48 batters in 48-2/3 innings as a starter. Willis, a second team all-conference honoree, has limited opponents to four or less hits in five of his nine starts this season while limiting opponents to a paltry .232 batting average over that span as well. A preseason all-American selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) in January, the Hope Mills native was a first team all-PBC and all-region selection as a junior in 2010.