By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Less than a week from the beginning of opening weekend of the 2014 season, Tennessee Tech baseball's Zach Stephens is still being recognized for all the hard work he has put together in the past as well as for the output expected of him this year, being named to the College Sports Madness 2014 Preseason All-American Third Team.
This marks the third Preseason All-America honor garnered by the first baseman in the past two months, as well as the fourth of his career. Stephens was also named to the Preseason All-America Third Team by the NCBWA last year, Preseason All-America Second Team by the NCBWA this season, and Preseason All-America Third Team by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
The Hixson, Tenn. native is used to hearing his named called by awards committees and receiving honors for his play, having earned OVC Preseason Player of the Year (2014), Preseason All-OVC (2014), OVC Preseason co-Player of the Year (2013), Preseason All-OVC First Team (2013), Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America Honorable Mention (2013), All-OVC Second Team (2012, 2013), and numerous other honors and awards throughout his career.
With just one more year left at Tech, Stephens will look to continue his great success after leading the Golden Eagles in runs scored (59), hits (77), home runs (15), RBI (71), walks (38), and slugging percentage (.616) in 2013.
He also ranked in the top five in the OVC in slugging percentage, runs, total bases, and walks. The Soddy-Daisy High School product recorded a solid .341 batting average and improved dramatically on the defensive side of the ball in 2013, owning a .994 fielding percentage after 57 games at first base. In just three seasons, Stephens has already made on impact on the Tech record books, posting his names among the best hitters to don a Golden Eagle uniform.
His 43 career long balls already ranks second on the all-time home runs list, just eight behind former Tech slugger A.J. Kirby-Jones and 10 off the all-time OVC record . He also ranks second for career RBI, racking up 172 so far in his career, just 36 shy of the OVC record. Stephens already ranks among the top 10 hitters in Tech history as his 216 hits are good enough for eighth. He is also among the top 10 in career doubles (seventh), slugging percentage (sixth), total bases (third), and walks (10th) and is approaching the top 10 in runs scored, triples, and at bats.
Other awards donned by Stephens in his time at Tech include: ABCA/Rawlings South Region Second-Team honors (2012), Collegebaseballinsider.com All-America Honorable Mention honors (2012), Invitation to the 2012 College Home Run Derby, Collegiate Baseball newspaper National Player of the Week (Mar. 19, 2012), 2012 semifinalist for NCBWA's Dick Howser Trophy, and several OVC Player of the Week honors from the OVC and College Sports Madness.