OMAHA, Neb. – Gardner-Webb second baseman Collin Thacker was selected one of 12 finalists for the 2016 Gregg Olson Award, presented by Toolshed Sports to Division I college baseball's breakout player of the year.
Thacker (Wilmington, N.C. / New Hanover HS) batted just .285 as a sophomore while splitting time behind the plate and in the outfield for the Runnin' Bulldogs. He had a .275 career batting average with only 52 career hits, six doubles and 30 RBI in his first two seasons combined at Gardner-Webb.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pounder enjoyed a quintessential breakout season in 2016, leading the nation with 28 doubles and batting a robust .394 with 86 hits, 46 runs scored, 46 RBI and four home runs. Thacker struck out only 16 times in 218 bats, walked 26 times and forged a strong .452 on base percentage in the middle of Gardner-Webb's batting order.
He was named to the 2016 Louisville Slugger All-America Second Team by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, earned first-team All-Big South Conference honors and was runner up for the Big South's Player of the Year award.
Thacker led the Big South in hits during the regular season and ranked among the league leaders in on base percentage, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage. The overall offensive season ranks as one of the best in the history of Gardner-Webb baseball.
His 28 doubles not only led NCAA Division I, but ranked second in Gardner-Webb history for a single season – just two shy of the 30 belted by Blake Lalli during the 2005 season. Lalli also led the national in doubles that season and went on to play in Major League Baseball with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers.
Thacker led Gardner-Webb to one of its top seasons as a program. The 'Dogs set a new record with 36 regular season wins and established a Division I era-record with a 37-21 campaign. GWU also finished in a tie for second in the Big South Conference regular season standings, the highest finish ever in a conference for the baseball program.
Thacker's earlier All-America recognition was the first for a Gardner-Webb standout in baseball since the school's move to NCAA Division I.
The Gregg Olson Award, presented by Toolshed Sports, is named after former Auburn and Baltimore Orioles' pitcher Gregg Olson. After mixed results as a freshmen, Olson went 11-1 with a 1.26 ERA and 10 saves for Auburn the following season – and went on to earn All-America honors twice before embarking on a successful professional baseball career.
The winner of the 2016 Gregg Olson Award will be named in Omaha during the College World Series, which will be held this season at TD Ameritrade Park beginning June 18.
2016 Gregg Olson Award Finalists
Cassidy Brown, Jr., Catcher (Loyola Marymount)
Gene Cone, Jr., Outfielder (South Carolina)
Nick Feight, So., Catcher (UNC Wilmington)
Tanner Gardner, So., Outfielder (Texas Tech)
Thomas Hatch, Jr., RHP (Oklahoma State)
Pat Krall, Jr., LHP (Clemson)
Evan Mendoza, So., Third Baseman (NC State)
Connor Owings, Sr., Outfielder (Coastal Carolina)
Cody Ramer, Sr., Second Baseman (Arizona)
Ryan Scott, Jr., Outfielder (Arkansas-Little Rock)
Zach Reks, Jr., Outfielder (Kentucky)
Collin Thacker, Jr., Second Baseman (Gardner-Webb)
Previous Gregg Olson Award Winners
2015 – Kyle Lewis, (Mercer) and Andrew Beninintendi (Arkansas)
2014 – Sam Moore (UC Irvine)
2013 – Scott Baker (Ball State)