(AGENPARL) – TOLEDO (OHIO) mar 30 maggio 2023
Following his record-setting 2023 campaign, Toledo junior infielder Jeron Williams has been named Mid-American Conference Baseball Player of the Year.
Williams, who was also named First-Team All-MAC, was one of a school-record-tying six Rockets to be recognized by the league in its postseason awards announcement.
Senior Mason Sykes, senior Cal McAninch, sophomore Owen Jackson, and sophomore Garret Pike were all named Second-Team All-MAC, and sophomore Brian Fry was named to the MAC’s All-Defensive Team.
Toledo’s six players to earn postseason recognition from the MAC are tied for the most ever in school history with the 1984 and 2010 squads. Williams is the second Rocket to win MAC Player of the Year, joining 2021 winner Chris Meyers in Toledo lore.
Williams recently capped one of the best offensive seasons by a Rocket in program history. He started all 55 games at shortstop and hit .403 with 14 home runs, 48 RBIs, 67 runs scored, 16 doubles, four triples, a .681 slugging percentage, .467 on-base percentage and an incredible 49 stolen bases. Following the conclusion of the regular season, Williams led all of NCAA Division I in hits and stolen bases; his 49 thefts were 10 more than the next-highest total. The Archbold native shattered the single-season stolen base record and was one away from tying the MAC single-season record for stolen bases. Williams’ 162 total bases accrued in 2023 are a new school record, and he is the first Rocket to hit .400 in a season since former All-American and MLB First-Round Draft Pick Mitch Maier in 2003.
In MAC play, Williams hit .435 with nine home runs, 30 RBIs, 41 runs scored, a .771 slugging percentage, .493 on-base percentage, and 26 stolen bases, leading Toledo in every category. His best performance of the season came on the biggest stage when he went 4-for-6 with three home runs, a triple, five RBIs, and four runs scored in game one against Bowling Green at Fifth Third Field on May 20. It was the first three-home run game by a Rocket since Jared Hoying in 2010, and his 15 total bases were the most in a game since Dan Sherwood in 2010.
A consistent threat to get on base every time he stepped in the box, Williams started the year with a 33-game hitting streak, eight games of which carried over from 2022, and finished the year on a 21-game hitting streak.
Garret Pike is now a two-time All-MAC honoree after earning second-team accolades in 2022. He started 45 games in right field and hit .314 while tallying 15 home runs, 54 RBIs, 49 runs scored, 12 doubles, a .623 slugging percentage and 12 stolen bases. He finished the regular season tied for fourth in the MAC in RBIs, tied for fifth in home runs and ninth in slugging percentage. His 54 RBIs are tied for seventh-most in a season in school history and 15 home runs are tied for third-most ever in a season. Pike drove in multiple runs on 16 occasions this year, which led the team.
Mason Sykes ends his illustrious career with his first career All-MAC accolade. Toledo’s single-season and all-time home run king, Sykes finishes his Toledo career with 38 home runs, 131 RBIs and a .523 slugging percentage. His 38 homers are the most ever by a Rocket and his 131 career RBIs are tied for seventh-most ever in school history. Sykes started all 55 games in 2023 and finished the season tied with Pike for fifth place in the MAC with 15 home runs. He hit .324 in MAC play, second-best on the team and hit nine home runs and tallied 28 RBIs against conference opponents.
Owen Jackson earned All-MAC honors in his first season with Toledo in 2023. A fearsome slugger, he started 51 games at designated hitter and tied Sykes’ single-season school record with 16 home runs, tied for third-most in the MAC this year. He showed excellent patience at the plate as well, leading UT with 35 walks. Jackson provided Toledo with one of its most exciting wins in some time on March 26 vs. Akron when he hit a towering three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth.
Cal McAninch is also a first-time All-MAC honoree after a three-year Rocket career where he appeared in 72 games out of the bullpen. He ranked second in the MAC and led all qualified relief pitchers with a 3.02 ERA and ranked sixth in the MAC in batting average against (.224). McAninch tied for the team lead with 26 pitching appearances, the third straight season in which he led or tied for the lead in most games pitched for UT. He struck out 48, walked just 18 and tied for the team lead with three saves. McAninch ended his season with a dominant stretch of 26.0 scoreless innings that spanned his final nine outings. He posted a sub-3.00 ERA in MAC play (2.86) across 14 appearances against conference competition.
Brian Fry is the fourth Rocket ever to earn All-Defensive Team honors, joining Jeron Williams (2022), Ross Adolph (2018) and Deion Tansel (2015-16). Fry played in 44 games, starting all 44 at second base, and posted a .995 fielding percentage on the season. His defensive prowess at the keystone helped the Rockets post a school-record .979 fielding percentage this past season, breaking the previous record since 1976.
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