BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb's 2016 success on the diamond has flowed into the fortunes of the Runnin' Bulldogs currently playing in collegiate wooden bat leagues around the country, with several among their respective league leaders after two weeks of action.
COASTAL PLAINS LEAGUE (CPL)
High Point-Thomasville HiToms (5-5)
Rising senior Danny Sullivan continues to rake for the HiToms, ranking fourth in the Coastal Plains League (CPL) in batting average (.457), first in doubles (6), second in its (16) and third in RBI (12). Sullivan ranks second in slugging percentage and fourth in total bases, all while putting forth a stellar .525 on base percentage in nine games played.
Gastonia Grizzlies (3-8)
Another rising senior, third baseman Matt Simmons, has maintained his fast start as well, batting .361 with a pair of home runs and four RBI for the Grizzles. His .452 on base percentage is impressive and he made a return to a venue he has enjoyed recent success – Lexington County Stadium – with similar results. After batting a sizzling .600 over three games at the 2016 Big South Conference Tournament, Simmons went 4-for-6 on the same field in a loss to the Blowfish last week.
Asheboro Copperheads (6-2)
The Gardner-Webb pitching trio of Bradley Hallman, Patrick Morton and Wil Sellers has helped Asheboro to a fine start to the CPL season, combining for 21 strikeouts and just six walks in five combined appearances.
Hallman went 6.0 strong innings to pick up a win in his second start, and now sits at 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13.2 innings. He ranks fourth on the circuit with a .136 opponent batting average.
Sellers is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two appearances, fanning eight in 7.0 innings of work. He has walked just one. Morton fanned three batters in 2.0 innings out of the bullpen without issuing a walk.
Forest City Owls (6-2)
Outfielder Mason Fox has helped the Forest City Owls to a solid 6-2 start to the season, playing in seven games so far. The speedster has one steal, three RBI and a .292 on base percentage this summer.
Wilson Tobs (5-6)
All-America second baseman Collin Thacker recovered from a slow start in Wilson, N.C., and now has five hits, a double and an RBI in seven games for the Tobs. He drove in 46 runs last season in Wilson, foreshadowing an excellent 2016 campaign in Boiling Springs.
SOUTHERN COLLEGIATE BASEBALL LEAGUE (SCBL)
Lake Norman Copperheads (3-6)
Infielder Luke Kaesmeyer is on fire early this summer, leading the SCBL with a .455 batting average. He has gone 10-for-22 at the plate with a pair of doubles, one home run and six RBI. He also leads the league in slugging percentage (.682) and with a .567 on base percentage that is bolstered by seven walks. The Danville, Va., native redshirted this past season at GWU.
Teammate J.D. Huggins, who also redshirted at Gardner-Webb in 2016, has experienced a power surge for the Copperheads. The Tallahassee, Fla., slugger leads the SCBL with four home runs and eight RBI. Huggins is batting .421 overall (8-for-19) and has a .500 on base percentage
Carolina Vipers (6-3)
Freshman All-America catcher Justin Kunz ranks six in the SCBL with a solid .357 batting average and has four doubles, four RBI and six walks to his credit. Kunz has also stolen four bases, which paces the circuit.
Lightning-quick outfielder Chris Clary is batting .292 with a pair of doubles and three steals for the Vipers, using three walks to assist a .393 on base percentage in eight games played.
Piedmont Pride (6-2)
Slugger Chandler Redmond is batting .273 with a home run, one double and two RBI for the Pride, who are off to a great start in the SCBL. Redmond also has a solid .385 on base percentage through two weeks of action.
SBA Bones (6-3)
Southpaw Aaron Stewart ranks seventh in the SCBL with 10 strikeouts and has forged a 3.68 ERA with only three walks in 7.1 innings of work. The rising sophomore has pitched in two games.
CAL RIPKEN COLLEGIATE LEAGUE
Rockville Express (2-4)
Two-way standout Corey Howard has not seen action on the mound yet, where he expects to make a big impact for the Runnin' Bulldogs in 2017. He has been active at the dish, batting .261 with three doubles, one home run and four RBI in six games. The former Georgetown Prep standout redshirted last season after transferring to Gardner-Webb from Liberty.
West Virginia Miners (8-8)
Shortstop Paul Trick, who had a breakout year at the plate for Gardner-Webb as a junior, is batting a solid .286 with a pair of doubles and eight RBI for the Miners in 14 games played. The Columbus, Ohio, native has a .311 on base percentage.
GREAT LAKES COLLEGIATE LEAGUE
Southern Ohio Copperheads (3-5)
Rising sophomore Tyler Johnson was effective in his first start of the summer, working 6.0 innings and allowing just one earned run in a hard-luck loss for the Copperheads. He fanned five batters in that start.