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Barton College second-year head baseball coach Jim Chester iterated his stance that he attaches little significance to preseason polls and awards in noting his team’s representation on the all-conference team consisted of five second-team selections.
But, coach! You were voted the 2019 NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year by your peers.
“It’s a nice honor,” Chester responded. “I am flattered other coaches thought of me, my staff and my team in this manner. It takes a village.”
Of the all-conference lineup, Chester remarked in a telephone interview from Tigerville, South Carolina, on Friday afternoon: “The coaches in our league did a good job. I think they were fair. But I am a hair disappointed we have no one on the first team. But at the end of the day, I don’t put a lot of stock in awards.”
Chester insisted the Bulldogs were simply excited to overcome Belmont Abbey, 8-7, on Thursday and register their first tournament win since 2015.
But landing on the second team were junior shortstop JoJo Allen, senior catcher-designated hitter Juan Martinez, junior catcher Brayden Olson, freshman center fielder Jacob Marcos and junior starting pitcher Jakob Ryan.
Martinez batted .303 with seven doubles and a team-high seven home runs. He drove in 31 runs.
Allen hit .304 with 15 doubles, two triples and four homers. The first-year Bulldog drove in 33 runs and scored 33.
Olson worked his way into the role of the primary catcher, batting .283 with three homers, two doubles and 21 RBIs.
Ryan, the opening-day starter, posted a 5-3 won-lost record and 4.67 earned run average. His 11 starts included three complete games and 28 walks and 76 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings pitched.
Marcos sparkled with a .367 average, 12 doubles, two triples and two homers. He not only paced the Bulldogs in batting average but led with 44 runs scored, 69 hits and 15 stolen bases. His 33 RBIs were one off the team lead.
Chester as coach of the year was a no-brainer. He guided the Bulldogs to second place in the regular season and to a 30-18 record after his inaugural team finished 12-36.
He credited the commitment of his returning players to drastically improve from 2018. Blending them with newcomers and Division I and junior college transfers clicked. Chester also cited an outstanding coaching staff of Zach Ullrich, Wiley Jackson, Anthony Marks and Gavin Hite.
“We believed we were going to be extremely competitive,” Chester explained the turnaround. “It all depended upon how fast the culture developed, how hard we worked and when the buy-in was going to happen. It all happened pretty fast. All the credit goes to the players — they believed.”
Chester declined to compare his latest accolade with his previous four coach-of-the-year honors. He emphasized he was the beneficiary of a tremendous support group that included “a great boss and a great wife.”
“It feels great,” he continued. “But I get so much more satisfaction out of watching young men grow, develop and come together to do the little things to be successful.
“I really enjoy being a piece of the turnaround.”
A trio landed third-team status for a Barton team that compiled a 11-10 record and lost in the opening round of the conference tournament Friday by a 4-3 margin against Emmanuel (Georgia) College.
Chosen were 6-foot sophomore Diego Agudelo at No. 1, 6-0 sophomore Oscar Marmestedt at No. 2 and junior Rory Gaydon at No. 3.
Agudelo and Gaydon tied tor the Bulldogs’ best record of 11-7. Marmestedt finished 11-9.
In doubles, Agudelo-Marmestedt posted a 9-10 mark, while Gaydon teamed with Hugh Ryder for a 6-2 showing.
The University of Mount Olive’s Armando Ferreira repeated as player of the year, while teammate Milosh Petrovic was tabbed freshman of the year. Mount Olive also claimed the Elite 23 Award recipient in Martin Moser. Limestone (South Carolina) College’s Kevin Coghill was recognized as coach of the year.
Limestone and Mount Olive shared the conference championship.
Senior Daria Avram represents the Lady Bulldogs as a second-team selection.
In Barton’s No. 1 slot, Avram compiled a 13-8 record and teamed with Marissa Stevenson for a 4-3 showing in doubles.
Barton owned a 14-8 record going into its first-round tournament test against Mount Olive on Friday.
Mount Olive’s Lina Marie Romero Alarcon was crowned both the player of the year and the freshman of the year.
The coach-of-the-year accolade went to Limestone’s Alex Ferguson. Receiving the Elite 23 Award was Erskine (South Carolina) College’s Rachel Berkey.
The award is being offered for the first year to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average at the championship site.
With third-team acclaim, Barton junior midfielder Rebecca Fraser was proclaimed all-conference for the third consecutive year. Fraser was one of five Lady Bulldogs to earn spots on either the second or third teams.
Second-team choices were sophomore attacker Kayli Ashenfelder, junior defender Alyssa Torres and sophomore goalkeeper Katherine Mattena.
Joining Fraser on the third team was sophomore attacker Angelina Scarpa.
Ashenfelder scored a program-record 65 goals, third in the conference, and amassed 78 points. Torres was credited with 30 ground balls and caused 26 turnovers. Mattena ranked fourth in Conference Carolinas in goals against (10.77) and saves (129).
Fraser paced the league in ground balls (80) and caused turnovers (40). Scarpa piled up 74 points with 37 goals and a team-high 37 assists.
The all-conference unit announced Friday included a pair of Barton attackers on the second team.
The Bulldogs are represented by 6-foot-3 sophomore Jake Copio and 5-11 freshman Mason Chaney.
Copio and Chaney emerged Barton’s top two offensive threats. Copio led with 59 points, while Chaney totaled 57. Chaney was the team front-runner with 49 goals, while Copio was tops with 23 assists.
Limestone’s Larson Sundown and Belmont Abbey’s Liam Osborne shared the distinction of offensive player of the year. Mount Olive’s Jacob Williams was hailed defensive player of the year. Noah Haas of Belmont Abbey was proclaimed freshman of the year, with Limestone’s J.B. Clarke as the coach of the year.
Limestone seized the regular-season championship.