Arguably the best baseball squad in Knox history received further confirmation of their accomplishments this past weekend, as five Knox baseball players were selected to the 2013 All-Midwest Conference South Division First Team.
Senior Caleb Weaver won South Division Positional Co-Player of the year, junior Paul Mills took home South Division Pitcher of the year and head coach Jami Isaacson won MWC South Division Coach of the Year, his third such time winning the honor and his first since 2008.
Also on the first team are juniors Erik Smoy (his second election) and Phil Tallman in addition to senior Kyle Walenga. Tallman and Walenga are both first-time all-MWC selections.
“I’m constantly motivated by myself, my coaches and by constant competition with my teammates,” Smoy said of his motivation. “Most of the success comes when you buy completely into the program, and I did that my freshman year when I put on 30 pounds. I had to put in the work, but a lot of it was buying into it all and believing in myself. Coach Isaacson always says, ‘I wish everyone on this team would believe in themselves as much as I believe in each of you,’ and it’s tremendous to have a voice like that in the back of your head.”
Weaver became the first Knox player to win South Division Player of the Year since Kevin Malone ’09 did so in 2009. Weaver was top 10 in the MWC in batting average, RBIs, doubles, hits, total bases, slugging percentage and home runs.
The honor bestowed upon Mills was the first time a Knox pitcher had won South Division Pitcher of the Year, and he did so with a 4.08 ERA, a .239 BAA and 26 strikeouts.
Of the 14 players from the first team squad, Knox led the way with its five selections. Grinnell had three while Illinois College, Cornell College and Monmouth College had two apiece.
“Now it’s on myself and the other seniors to make sure Knox has continued success,” Smoy said. “The graduating seniors left awfully big shoes to fill, so our whole class needs to make sure we do a similarly exceptional job in our leadership roles. It’s on us to motivate, to push the program, to provide good examples. And I think we’re more than up to the task.”
For her third straight year, junior Amber Eisha was named an All-MWC South Division First Team performer. She was in the top 10 for seven pitching categories, including games finished, games in relief, saves and strikeouts, among others.
Eisha was even more effective in conference play, in which she lowered her ERA by half a run and came out with a 3-4 record in addition to her one save. She finished off all of her six starts with complete games, including complete game shutouts against Beloit College and Grinnell College.
In addition to being one of the best pitchers on the Prairie Fire squad, Eisha was the best performer on the other side of the ball. She hit .381 (good enough for ninth in the MWC) with four home runs and 18 RBIs. She was just barely out of the top 10 in home runs, doubles, total bases and on base percentage. Much like her pitching numbers, her performance at the plate was even better against conference foes.
Eisha set or tied six all-time Knox softball marks on the year, as she is second in pitching appearances in a season, tied for third in shutouts, seventh in strikeouts, tied for fifth in total bases, tied for seventh in hits and is tied for eighth in home runs.
Illinois College had the most first team all-conference selections from the MWC South Division with four. Midwest Conference champion Cornell College and South Division winner Lake Forest College each had three picks. Monmouth College and Knox had one each.
Note: Information from the Knox College Athletic Department was used in this report.