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Stephens named to NCBWA preseason all-America third-team


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech baseball fans can get ready for big things from Golden Eagle first baseman Zach Stephens this season, or at least that's what the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association thinks, honoring the junior slugger as a preseason All-America third-team selection.

A Hixson, Tenn., native, Stephens is no stranger to awards and accolades after racking up several in his first two seasons as a member of the Tech baseball team. He enjoyed a fantastic sophomore campaign, ranking in the Top 10 in the Ohio Valley Conference in several offensive categories.

The youngster led the Golden Eagles with an impressive .368 batting average, good for fourth in the OVC. He socked 18 dingers, ranking second in the OVC and sixth in the nation. His 0.34 home runs per game were fourth best in the nation and tied for the conference lead.

Stephens also ranked in the Top 10 in the OVC with an OBP of .476 (second), slugging percentage of .696 (second), 52 RBI (fifth), 142 total bases (fifth), and 75 hits (eighth). Nationally, the junior finished fifth in slugging percentage, 29th in total bases, and 32nd in on-base percentage.

His fantastic play as a first baseman/designated hitter earned Stephens all-OVC second-team honors, ABCA/Rawlings South Region second-team honors, and Collegebaseballinsider.com All-America honorable mention honors. His power swing and ability to hit the long ball led to an invitation to the 2012 College Home Run Derby as well as a weekly honor in March.

For the week of March 19, Stephens was unstoppable, batting .588 (10-for-17) with seven runs scored, two doubles, four home runs, eight RBI, a 1.412 slugging percentage and a .650 on-base percentage. The outburst earned the former Soddy-Daisy high school player OVC Player of the Week honors as well as being name a Collegiate Baseball newspaper National Player of the Week.

The Golden Eagle was also named a 2012 semifinalist for NCBWA's Dick Howser Trophy, which is presented to the top player in collegiate baseball.

Stephens and the Tennessee Tech baseball team will open the 2013 season Feb. 15-17 with a three-game home series against Big Ten member Illinois.