Four Nittany Lions Honored with Year-End Baseball Awards
June 1, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four members of the Penn State baseball team have been honored for their outstanding achievements during the 2011 campaign as Sean Deegan, Steven Hill, John Walter, and Mike Pierce were named the recipients of the program's annual year-end awards.
Deegan was honored with the F. Joseph Bedenk Award, which is bestowed upon Penn State's most valuable player. Hill took home the Charles Medlar Award as the team's top pitcher, while Walter earned the Ed Drapcho Award as the Lions' most improved player. Pierce rounded out the honorees after earning the Shorty Stoner Award for his work in the classroom and on the field.
After piecing together a sensational junior season, Deegan was honored with the program's top award. During the 2011 campaign, the sweet-swinging centerfielder led the Big Ten with 12 home runs and a .622 slugging percentage. One of only two players in the conference to earn unanimous first-team All-Big Ten honors, he also ranked second in the league with 18 doubles and five triples.
A native of Readington, New Jersey, Deegan was a staple at the top of Penn State's lineup. During the year, he scored 54 runs, which marked the third-highest total in the conference. A threat on the base paths, he also swiped 14 bags in just 16 attempts.
Throughout the year, he posted at least one hit in 46 of his 53 games, including multiple hits in 21 contests. Deegan started the year with a 13-game hitting streak, and after having it snapped against Norfolk State, he quickly pieced together an 11-game roll. He also finished the year on a hot streak, blasting seven home runs in Penn State's last 14 games, including bombs in three straight contests from May 7-10.
With Deegan anchoring the offense, Hill was the team's ace at the top of the rotation. Anchoring the PSU pitching staff, the sophomore right-hander posted a league-best 2.57 ERA while earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. He was even greater in conference action, posting a 2.02 ERA, which also was the finest mark in the league.
A native of Colleyville, Texas, Hill was a workhorse in 2011, firing a Big Ten-high 101.2 innings on the mound. During the year, he twirled four complete games, including a pair of shutouts. On April 9, he blanked Northwestern, 12-0, before tossing another gem against Minnesota during a 7-0 victory on May 13. For his efforts against the Golden Gophers, he was named the Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week.
In his 15 starts, he notched a 6-5 record, including three wins during conference action. Hill held his opposition to three or fewer runs during 10 starts. Incredibly accurate, he averaged 1.06 walks-per-nine innings, which still stands as the 16th best rate in the nation. Overall, he issued just 12 free passes during the year.
Teaming with Hill at the top of the rotation, Walter was nearly as effective during his sophomore season. An imposing right-hander, he posted a 6-4 record during the year with a 3.19 ERA. Similar to Hill, he was durable on the mound, firing 84.2 innings, including a complete game effort against Illinois on April 2.
A native of Haddonfield, New Jersey, he held his opposition to a .234 batting average, which ranked as the lowest mark in the league. He allowed only one hit in three separate outings and limited his opponents to five or fewer hits in eight contests during the year. Walter also struck out 59 batters, which stands as the ninth-highest total in the conference, and was the only qualifying pitcher in the Big Ten that did not allow a single home run.
During Big Ten action, Walter was even better, posting a pristine 4-0 record to go along with a 3.06 ERA and 36 strikeouts. His efforts throughout the season were a marked improvement over his freshman campaign as he cut his ERA in half and allowed 12 fewer hits despite firing nearly twice as many innings as last year.
Continuing his excellent work as a standout student-athlete, Pierce wrapped up his career this spring with a strong year both on the diamond and in the classroom. An industrial engineering major, he was an outstanding student and a perennial member of the Academic All-Big Ten team.
A native of State College, Pa., he appeared in eight games during the 2011 season as a southpaw specialist. During his time on the mound, he surrendered just two earned runs while striking out nine and allowing just one walk. His 2.70 ERA was the second-best mark on the team among full-time relievers.
During his career, Pierce appeared in 46 games for the Nittany Lions and tossed 44.1 innings of work. Over that time, he posted a 2-2 record and fittingly capped off his career by striking out the lone hitter he faced in the season finale against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.
Together, the four standouts helped Penn State finish the 2011 campaign with a 32-22 record. Placing sixth in the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions also earned their first postseason berth since 2008.