ROCK HILL, S.C.—Three Carson-Newman Eagles were named to preseason All-South Atlantic Conference teams Monday announced by the league. Jordan Griffin and Tyler Thompson earned nods on the first team in the outfield and Mike Wroth picked up a second team slot as a designated hitter.
Landing three players on preseason rosters, Carson-Newman places its third-most players behind five players from 2009 and four including three on the first team in 2017.
In 45 games as a sophomore, Griffin hit .309 with a .429 OBP knocking eight home runs with 35 RBIs and seven stolen bases. He finished the year with 15 multi-hit games and nine multi-RBI efforts. The Ellerslie, Ga. native was named SAC Player of the Week on March 4, 2019 after going 6-for-11 with two bombs and six RBIs against Belmont Abbey and Mars Hill
Griffin posted a nine-game hitting streak from April 6-22 going 14-for-29 with a homer, nine RBIs and nine runs scored. He will try to start the year the way he finished 2019 after hitting .395 with a .500 on-base percentage in the final 12 games.
Thompson became the first Eagle to earn a spot on the top team regionally since left-hander Vince Apicella pulled in the hardware in 2016 earning all-region nods from the NCBWA, ABCA and D2CCA. The Gallatin, Tenn. native was the first C-N outfielder to be on the top team in the SAC since Jeff Lockwood in 2010 becoming the 25th outfielder to earn a year-end plaudit. The sophomore led the team with 25 multi-hit games and 12 multi-RBI affairs.
He was the conference's batting champion by nearly 20 points hitting .438, a number that was good for fourth in the nation, on the season while pacing the SAC in on-base percentage with a .528, eighth in Division II, and slugging percentage by over 50 points finishing the year with a .756, 13th in D2, tally. His batting average set the program's NCAA record for a single season passing Shap Stiles's mark of .414 from 1999 to become the sixth Eagle in the Division II era to hit over .400. He started the year 1-for-5 in the opener before rattling off five straight hits. On the year, his batting average did not dip below .422 since the opener with that mark coming in the middle game of the Lincoln Memorial series on March 10. He followed that with three multi-hit games in-a-row. Thompson is the fourth SAC player since 2012 to hit above .430 in a season and first since Wingate's Shane Billings hit .444 in 2016.
"I have been working on a lot of the same things," Thompson said. "I have been in the weight room just trying to add a little more size and doing the things that I have been doing and getting a little better each day. You have to do whatever the team needs and doing whatever you can to get us wins at the end of the day.
"I think it has all of the ingredients for it to be a very prolific offense. We have a lot of talent with Jordan Griffin, Mike Wroth and many more. I think we have all of the ingredients to do a lot of damage on offense."
In his first season at Mossy Creek, Wroth led the team and ranked 10th in the SAC with 45 RBIs while drawing a team-high 31 walks. His six long balls were good for fourth on the team as two went for grand slams. The Chicopee, Mass. native hit a three-run dinger in his second C-N at-bat at Limestone on Feb. 1. The first grand slam happened in the sixth inning of a 19-5 win over Alderson Broaddus on Feb. 10. His second came against Northwood on Feb. 16 as part of a 5-for-9, two homer and seven RBI effort in a twin-bill. Wroth had six multi-hit games and nine multi-RBI efforts.
"Last year coming in as a transfer from a junior college I wasn't really sure what to expect," Wroth said. "Right away I could tell this place was a lot different than the previous school I was at. It took me a little bit to grasp on. Towards the end of the year I really understood what it meant to be a Carson-Newman baseball player.
"I have been trying to fine tune my swing and make sure all of my movements are positive movements. In the weight room, I've been trying to get bigger and stronger to be ready for this year."
The Eagles open their season on Jan. 31 in the first of a four-game series at Limestone starting the year with five road games before returning home to open the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex on Feb. 8.