By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The Ohio Valley Conference announced its annual postseason awards for baseball Tuesday afternoon, and, fittingly, a certain Tennessee Tech outfielder made even more league history in the process.
A total of four different Golden Eagles earned accolades from the league, led by the announcement of All-American Kevin Strohschein as the OVC Player of the Year. Already the conference's all-time career record holder in at bats, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI and total bases, the senior slugger became just the second person in OVC history to be named Player of the Year three times.
He also became the first position player to accomplish the feat as Murray State's George Dugan earned the award in 1963, 1964 and 1965 as a pitcher (the OVC did not adopt a Pitcher of the Year honor until 1992).
Additionally, Strohschein earned his third career All-OVC First Team honors and fourth total recognition (after claiming Second Team honors as a sophomore). Joining the Tech outfielder on the All-OVC First Team were sophomore first baseman Jason Hinchman and freshman designated hitter John Dyer.
Dyer earned a spot on the OVC All-Freshman Team as well, pairing with redshirt freshman second baseman Nathan McMeans on squad for rookies.
In his final campaign donning the purple and gold, Strohschein spent the majority of the season rewriting the Tech and OVC record books and establishing himself as one of the best to ever represent the conference. He closed out the year ranked first in the OVC in hits (89), doubles (23) and total bases (161), third in batting average (.382), runs (57) and slugging percentage (.691), fourth in home runs (15) and fifth in on base percentage (.447).
The first-ever player in the history of the OVC to win Player and Rookie of the Year in the same season (2016), the McDonough, Ga. native finished 10th in NCAA history in career hits with 362. His 247 RBI, 74 doubles, 62 home runs, 642 total bases and 1,009 at bats all established new league and program marks for a career, while his 238 runs scored (three off the record) and 236 games played and started (one off the record) each finished as the second most ever by an OVC player.
Hinchman spent the year among the national leaders in home runs, finishing second overall with a whopping 24 in his first full season of action. It marked the second-most in program history and fifth in league history. He earned his First Team nod after batting .278 with 54 runs scored, 11 doubles, 55 RBI and .697 slugging percentage, as well as a team-high 43 walks. The Winston, Ga. native also made just three errors all season at first base.
Dyer quickly became one of the top freshmen in the league and one of the best overall hitters in his first season, batting .330 with 63 hits, a .420 on base percentage and .581 slugging percentage. He led all OVC rookies in doubles (13), home runs (11), RBI (54) and slugging, ranked second in on base percentage and third in both average and total hits. A Mt. Juliet native, Dyer also finished third in the league overall in RBI and eighth in slugging.
After sitting out the 2018 campaign as a redshirt, McMeans earned a starting role as Tech's second baseman, batting .294 with 50 hits and 34 runs scored. He totaled 12 doubles and 17 RBI while walking more times (21) than he struck out (13).
Photos by Thomas Corhern & Tony Marable