BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Gardner-Webb placed a league-high four members on the Perfect Game Preseason Big South Baseball All-Conference team, as Justin Kunz, Wil Sellers, Danny Sullivan, and Collin Thacker each earned the honors.
Kunz (Wake Forest, N.C. / Heritage HS) is coming off of a stellar freshman campaign, which earned him 2016 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors. Kunz also earned first-team All-Big South Conference honors in 2016, finishing the season with a .333 batting average, six home runs, 11 doubles and 23 RBI in 37 starts.
Kunz ranked third on the team in average, was tied for third in doubles and ranked second in home runs. His .389 on base percentage also ranked third on the team by season's end, and his home run total was the top mark for any freshman in the Big South Conference.
Sellers (Kings Mountain, N.C. / Kings Mountain HS) earned second-team All-Big South Conference honors in 2016 after setting a Gardner-Webb record with 12 saves – smashing the previous mark by three heading into the postseason. He was 1-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 25 appearances – all out of the bullpen.
Sellers fanned 52 batters in 51.1 innings of work and limited teams to a frigid .215 batting average. He was part of two combined shutouts this season, which tied for the team lead.
Sullivan (Denver, N.C. / Catawba Valley JC) earned first-team All-Big South Conference honors in 2016, as he was one of the league's most consistent bats during league play, batting an even .400 during 24 conference starts – which ranked second on the circuit. Overall, Sullivan batted .348 with 77 hits, 43 runs scored, 13 doubles, two triples and a team-best nine home runs.
Sullivan drove in 35 runs and ranked second to only Thacker with a .393 on base percentage this season. He played six different positions defensively, but settled in as a strong-armed right fielder. Sullivan led Gardner-Webb with a pair of outfield assists in 2016.
Thacker (Wilmington, N.C. / New Hanover HS) enjoyed a breakout season in 2016, which earned him 2016 Louisville Slugger Division 1 All-America Second Team honors, as well as being named to the All-Big South Conference first team. He led the nation with 28 doubles while 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.
Thacker led the Big South Conference in hits during the regular season and ranked among the league leaders in on base percentage, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage. He was also named to the Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America First Team at second base for the upcoming season.
Gardner-Webb opens the 2017 season in just over two weeks, hosting Canisius for a four-game series beginning on Friday, February 17th at 4:00 pm at John Henry Moss Stadium.