OREM, Utah – Freshmen Jeff Campbell (Clearwater, Fla.) was named the Great West Newcomer of the Year and earned All-GWC first team honors, while teammates Andrew Thome (St. Cloud, Minn.) and Kyle Bolander (Hermantown, Minn.) were named to the second team in an announcement made Monday by league officials at the pre-tournament banquet.
Campbell, who is the first Sioux player to earn an individual GWC award, ranked second in the league in home runs with 11 and tied for the league-lead with five complete games from the mound to earn the first team utility spot. He enters the tournament with a .314 batting average and a team-high 41 RBI. Campbell owns three wins on the season, including a complete-game victory over an NJIT team that UND opens tournament play with on Tuesday.
“We knew once he got on campus in the fall that he was going to be a special player,” UND head coach Jeff Dodson said. “The great thing about Jeff is this is only his freshman year and we have a few more good years to get out of him. The future is bright with him as one of the core pieces of our program.”
Bolander earned second-team distinction after registering career highs in runs (29), hits (48), home runs (9), doubles (8) and RBI during the regular season. Over his last 20 games, the Sioux third baseman is batting .400 with six home runs and 29 RBI during that stretch. He has raised his average to .309 entering the tournament.
“Kyle has battled through some injuries during his career and has kept working with a positive attitude,” Dodson said. “He has really shown our young guys what perseverance is all about by having a breakthrough year here in 2012. We are really excited for him and this is a great way for him to finish out his career at UND.”
Thome had a strong finish to his rookie season to become the first Sioux pitcher to ever garner All-GWC accolades. He registered a team-high four wins and shared the GWC lead in complete games at five with Campbell and NYIT’s Ryan Dillabough. He is the only GWC hurler to earn three of the league’s weekly pitching honors and is the only freshman in Division I baseball with a pair of nine-inning shutouts.
Thome, who broke UND’s single-season record for innings pitched with 84 this season, will start the tournament opener for the Sioux against NJIT.
“With Thome, he has been the ace of our staff all year. Once he earned that, he never looked back,” Dodson said. “He earned this award by his hard work in the weight room, the classroom and on the field. He is a prototypical guy that you want throwing for you on a Friday night in Division I. He has shown tremendous signs of a bright future and we’re really excited he is wearing a North Dakota uniform.”
The sixth-seeded Sioux and Highlanders will play the opening game of the five-game tournament being played at Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem, Utah. All games from the tournament are being streamed live at the following website www.UVU.edu/uvutv, while live audio of every UND game will be available for free at www.FightingSioux.com.
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