The Prairie Fire baseball team’s fine season is reflected in the all-conference selections and awards.
Senior outfielder Caleb Weaver (Galesburg, IL) and junior pitcher Paul Mills (Moline, IL) are among five Knox players named to the 2013 All-Midwest Conference South Division First Team.
Weaver – a two-time All-MWC pick – is the South Division Positional Co-Player of the Year while Mills is the South Division Pitcher of the Year. Prairie Fire coach Jami Isaacson was chosen as the MWC South Division Coach of the Year. Isaacson last won the award in 2008 and is a three-time recipient of it.
Joining Weaver and Mills on the All-Midwest Conference South Division First Team from Knox are juniors Erik Smoy (Hoffman Estates, IL) and Phil Tallman (Park Ridge, IL), and senior Kyle Walenga (San Francisco, CA). Smoy is a three-time all-conference selection.
Weaver led the team with a.396 batting average, four home runs, and 39 RBIs. He was fourth in the conference in batting average and RBIs, second in doubles (15), tied for fourth in hits (57), tied for fifth in total bases (84), third in slugging percentage (.583), and tied for ninth in home runs. Weaver set new school records for hits and total bases in a season, tied the all-time mark for doubles, and he ranked 13th in the nation with .52 doubles per game.
The last Midwest Conference South Division Player of the Year from Knox was Kevin Malone in 2009.
Cornell senior shortstop Zach Rogers was named the MWC South Positional Co-Player of the Year with Weaver.
Mills had a 4-1 record with a 4.08 earned run average in nine appearances, six of them starts, over 39 2/3 innings pitched. Opponents batted just .239 against him, which ranked third in the MWC, and he recorded 26 strikeouts.
Mills tossed 8 1/3 innings in a win for the Prairie Fire in the Midwest Conference Tournament on May 10 against Grinnell College. He is the first Knox hurler to be named the South Division Pitcher of the Year.
Isaacson guided Knox to its first MWC South Division title since 2008 and a second straight appearance in the conference tournament since the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He set a school record for most wins by a coach in a season with 22.
Smoy, an outfielder, finished the season with a .364 average, two home runs, 47 hits, and 37 runs batted in. He led the team with a .419 on base percentage and he was sixth in the MWC in RBIs. In addition, Smoy struck out just four times in 132 at-bats – ranking him eighth in the nation as the toughest hitter to strike out.
Tallman, an infielder, is a first-time all-conference selection. The Prairie Fire’s lead-off hitter, Tallman played in all 35 games, setting a new school record for games played in a season. He batted .316 overall, including a team-best .396 against Midwest Conference pitching, with 42 hits and led the team with 12 stolen bases in 13 attempts. Tallman tied for seventh in the league with his 12 steals.
Walenga, an infielder, is also a first-time All-MWC pick. A stellar defensive player, Walenga had a strong season at the plate as well. He batted .280 with 37 hits and 18 runs batted in. Walenga’s average climbed to .313 in Midwest Conference games and .615 with a runner on third base and less than two outs. Walenga also made his way into the record books with 118 assists during the season.
The Prairie Fire set eight new school records in 2013. The team established all-time highs for wins in a season (22), conference
wins in a season (13), most hits in a season (355), most at-bats in a season (1224), most doubles in a season (68), most batters hit by a pitch in a season (43), best fielding percentage in a season (.962), and most assists in a season (413).
Knox finished with a 22-13 record, including a 13-3 mark in the South Division. The Prairie Fire placed third at the Midwest Conference Baseball Tournament hosted by Ripon College on May 10 and 11.
A total of 14 players from the MWC South Division were named first team all-conference.
Knox led the way with five, followed by Grinnell College with three and Illinois College, Cornell College, and Monmouth College with two players each.