The Buena Vista baseball team was represented with a league-best and school-record 10 All-Iowa Conference selections when the teams were announced by the conference office on Friday afternoon. Senior starting Pitcher Jon Ringblom was named the 2014 IIAC Pitcher of the Year with head coach Steve Eddie landing Coach of the Year accolades.
Ringblom has turned in one of the best single-season pitching performances in school history. The senior right-hander entered the NCAA Regional Tournament with a 7-2 overall record and a 1.14 ERA. He had posted 80 strikeouts and seven complete games in 10 starts.
He led all IIAC pitchers in earned run average, ranked second in strikeouts and wins, third in games started (10) and fourth in opposing batting average (.207) and innings pitched (71.0). Ringblom struck out at least five batters in each of his 10 appearances, with a high of 11 at Nebraska Wesleyan on March 15.
Ringblom appeared in six Iowa Conference games for Buena Vista, finishing with a 4-2 record, an 0.90 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings. All six of his appearances were complete games, including two shutouts, while holding opponents to a .207 batting average. His only losses were 1-0 to Luther on March 28 and 2-0 to Wartburg on April 25. Ringblom's ERA was the lowest by any conference pitcher since Wartburg's Aaron Saeugling posted an 0.54 ERA in 2007. He surrendered just four walks and four extra-base hits during IIAC play.
Eddie earns the coaching honors for the third time in his career (2002 and 2010). It's the eighth time a Beaver head coach has landed the accolades which is the second-most all-time in league history. He guided his squad to a 33-7 regular season record (22-6 IIAC) and its 16th league title, which is the second-highest total in conference history. His team set the school record for wins in a season (35) with its first win during the IIAC Tournament and entered the Regional Tournament at 36-7. BVU has dropped consecutive games just once all season and has posted a pair of nine-game win streaks.
Eddie's squad led the IIAC during conference play in all three major categories: batting average (.311), earned run average (2.79) and fielding percentage (.967). Heading into Regionals, Buena Vista ranks second nationally in strikeouts per nine innings (9.8), seventh in hits allowed per nine innings (7.46), ninth in triples (22), 12th in earned run average, 14th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (+2.71), 17th in shutouts (6), 26th in runs scored (315), 30th in batting average (.323) and slugging percentage (.450), 34th in hits (459) and doubles (87) and 46th in scoring (7.3 runs/game).
BVU has been ranked nationally virtually all season long, including its #13 spot in the ABCA poll entering NCAA tournament play.
In addition to those to accolades, the Beavers were well represented on both all-conference teams, landing six on the First Team (not including Ringblom) and three more on the Second Team.
Brandon Wessels (Catcher) is a repeat First Team selection, as is second baseman Weston Foxx. In addition to those two, junior pitchers Scott Harris and Ian Grigsby, along with senior Jeremy Lambert (DH) and sophomore Neil Marshall (OF) earned such recognition for the first time in their respective careers.
Wessels is having yet another solid season at the plate for BVU, sitting fourth on the team in hitting (.353), tied for second in hits (57), first in triples (7), home runs (5), runs scored (48), slugging percentage (.585) and is tied for the lead in RBI (34). Against IIAC foes, he led the way with five triples, ranked second with 28 runs scored and in total bases (54) and was fourth in slugging percentage (.535).
Foxx, the team's clean-up hitter this season, is second on the team in overall hitting at .375 and is tied with Wessels with 57 hits. He has seven doubles, 31 RBI and 35 runs scored, while also stealing six bases. His six sacrifice flies have tied a school record. During IIAC play, he was third on the team in average (.352) and second in runs (23). His 14 walks were also the third-most.
Harris has had a break-out season for the Beavers, going 8-0 and posting a 2.29 entering the regional tournament. In his 10 appearances (seven starts), he has worked in 63 innings with opponents hitting just .204 off of him. His 79 strikeouts were second on the team behind Ringblom. He set a career-high with 13 strikeouts in a win over Wartburg and posted a career-best 9.0 innings pitched during the team's first win over Central in the IIAC Tournament. His 54 strikeouts against IIAC foes led all conference pitchers.
Grigsby has been nearly lights out in his first year as the team's closer. The junior has made 14 appearances and is 2-1 with a school-record tying eight saves. In 19.1 innings, he has allowed just 11 hits, has posted 26 strikeouts while walking only seven. His six saves in IIAC play was a league-best.
Lambert hit .380 during conference play this season which was third-best among all league hitters. He ranked seventh in slugging percentage, sixth in on-base percentage and his 27 RBI was second-most. For the year, he is fifth on the team with a 3.58 average and is tied for second with 34 RBI.
Marshall, who solely played on the junior varsity team a year ago, is leading the team in hitting at a .380 clip. He had 65 hits entering the regionals which is six shy of tying the school record of 71 set back in 2009. His 12 doubles are also a team-high, as are his 15 stolen bases. He is second in runs (41).
Against IIAC foes, he had a league-best 39 hits and his eight doubles were the fifth-most.
Senior Joe Paletta was an all-conference selection for the third time. He is third on the team in average (.364) and has started all 42 games in which he played. He entered the regional tournament with 170 career games played which equaled the school record. His 11 doubles rank second on the squad while his 34 RBI are tied for the lead. Against IIAC foes, he was fourth in average (.374) and was fifth in slugging percentage (.523). His 21 runs scored was tied for seventh and he led the way with 17 walks.
Sophomore Tanner Truesdell also had a break-out year for the Beavers, playing primarily in right field. He his hitting .333 overall and is tied for second on the team with 11 doubles. He ranked 10th in conference play with a .476 slugging percentage and his two triples were tied for second.
Lucas Hadaway also earned Second Team recognized for the first time in his career. He has primairly served as a set-up man to Grigsby, and on occassion has also closed games out. His 16 appearances on the year lead the staff, and he has posted a 41- record with an ERA of 2.49 to go along with five saves. In 25.1 innings of work, he has struck out 39 hitters and allowed just eight walks. His 12 appearances during league play was most among all IIAC pitchers.
Wartburg's DJ Utley was named the IIAC Position Player of the Year. The Knights were second with six total all-conference selections.