COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Just one day after providing the Tennessee Tech baseball team with clutch, late-game heroics against Murray State, junior Zach Stephens was rewarded for his performance by being selected as the adidas Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week.
With Stephens picking up his first weekly honor of the season, the Golden Eagle program marked its fifth consecutive week that a member of the team was selected as either a Player or Pitcher of the Week.
Stephens, who was voted OVC preseason co-Player of the Year, put together arguably his best week of the season, batting .500 with eight hits, including two doubles and two home runs. He finished with a 1.000 slugging percentage and .526 on-base percentage while scoring three runs, and driving in seven runners.
The junior slugger was crucial to an unbelievable, 10-inning, comeback win over Murray State on Sunday. With the Golden Eagles trailing 6-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Stephens crushed a two-run home run to left field to put Tech within three. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Golden Eagles down 6-4, he delivered again, hammering a line drive over the right field fence to tie the game at 6-6 and force extra innings. He finished 5-for-5 at the plate, making him the first Golden Eagle do record five hits in a game since Casanova Donaldson in 2009.
After a posting an incredible sophomore season, Stephens hasn't missed a beat this season as he leads the OVC in several offensive categories including home runs (11), RBI (53), and walks (34). He is batting .325 in 44 games in 2013, collecting 55 hits and 49 runs scored. He has punished pitchers with 11 doubles, a triple, and 11 dingers on his way to a .598 slugging percentage (3rd in the OVC). He leads the Golden Eagles with a .448 on-base percentage and has made just two errors all year at first base, good enough for a .995 fielding percentage.
The award marks the second time Stephens has garnered Player of the Week honors from the OVC. He was voted to the 2012 all-OVC second-team as a sophomore and to the 2011 OVC all-freshman squad as well. Prior to the 2013 season, Stephens was named third-team preseason all-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writer Association.
Here's a look at the rest of the awards in the OVC this week:
Player of the Week
Others Nominated: Craig Massoni, Austin Peay; Drew Ferguson, Belmont; Treysen Vavra, Eastern Illinois; Sean Hagen, Eastern Kentucky; Griff Gordon, Jacksonville State; Bobby Burns, Morehead State; Andy Lennington, Southeast Missouri.
Pitcher of the Week
Joe Greenfield, RHP • Jr., 6-4, 215 • Orland Park, Ill. • Eastern Illinois