College Baseball: Albertson national player of the year

Published 11:10 pm Thursday, May 21, 2015

Will Albertson was named the Division II Player of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association on Thursday.

Albertson is not only the first Catawba player to win the award, he’s the first from the South Atlantic Conference.

The junior catcher/DH ranks No. 1 in Division II with 107 hits, 204 total bases and a .473 batting average. Albertson’s 90 RBIs rank him at No. 2 in the country, while his 26 home runs rank third. Albertson is fifth with a .903 slugging percentage.

A transfer from Campbell in his first season at Catawba, Albertson is one of the big reasons the Indians (44-13) will be playing Saturday in the opening round of the Division II National Championships at 7 p.m. against Wilmington (Del.).

Catawba will play its second game Monday.

“Will has been a great team guy and he’s stayed humble and low key through all the success he’s had this season,” Catawba coach Jim Gantt said in a phone interview from Cary on Thursday night. “One of the reasons we’re still playing is that no matter what Will has done, he’s always kept it about the team and not him.”

Albertson was the Southeast Region Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player in the Southeast Region. In the regional semifinals, Albertson belted a two-run, walk-off homer to propel the Indians to the regional final. His clutch, ninth-inning single in the regional final directly led to a 1-0 victory.

“We’ve had some really good players at Catawba, and he is the first to win this award,” Gantt said. “It’s something. It really is. But like I’ve said a few times, he’s not having a fluke year. He’s a great hitter.”

Catawba senior Craig Brooks, the consensus Southeast Region Pitcher of the Year, was named a first-team All-American. Brooks is 9-1 with a 1.53 ERA. He has struck out 147 batters in 94 innings. Brooks leads Division II in strikeouts and is 13th in ERA. He’s allowed only 5.07 hits per nine innings and ranks ninth nationally in that category.

Former South Rowan star Blake Houston, Catawba’s center fielder and leadoff man, was honorable mention for All-America honors. The senior leads D-II with 49 walks and is fourth in runs scored with 77.

“Craig and Blake, it’s great to see them honored as well,” Gantt said. “Those are guys that don’t worry about individual accolades. They just want to compete. They’re great players and great teammates.”

Six SAC players were honored. Wingate’s Shane Billings is a first-team All-America selection, while Wingate’s Thomas Spitz and Newberry’s Albert Bauer are second-team picks.