MLC coach Randy Cox Named Coach of the Year in UMAC

ST. PAUL – Several members of the Martin Luther College baseball program received honors from the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Friday in its postseason awards release.

Coach Randy Cox was named Coach of the Year, while juniors Jake Ziel and Galen Holzhueter were named First Team All-UMAC.

Also receiving recognition were Aaron Stokke and Andrew Nemmers, who were named Honorable Mention All-UMAC.

Cox led the Knights to their first UMAC tournament appearance since 2008, finishing the season with a record of 14-12 overall and 8-6 in UMAC play. This was Cox’s fourth season at the helm of the MLC program, and the Knights finished the season with the most wins (14) the program has had since the 2005 season.

Ziel was the ace throughout the season for the Knights’ pitching staff, leading the team with an ERA of 1.43 in six appearances. He finished the season with a record of 4-1, and ranked inside the top 50 in a number of categories nationally. Amongst NCAA Division III pitchers, Ziel ranked third in hits allowed per nine innings (5.32), fourth in WHIP (0.8), eighth in strikeouts per nine innings (11.05), and 36th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.0). He also finished second in the UMAC in total strikeouts (54), and helped the Knights finish the season 16th in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings as a team (8.0).

Holzhueter became the first player to be named First Team All-UMAC in football, basketball and baseball in the same school year since at least 2007-08. He batted .333 and also led the team with 14 walks, which helped him finish sixth in the UMAC with an on-base percentage of .451 over the course of the season. He also led MLC in RBI (16), runs scored (22), stolen bases (seven), home runs (one) and total bases (37), and tied for the team lead in triples (two).

Stokke started 24 of 26 games as the Knights’ primary catcher. He batted .308 overall with three doubles, six walks, 10 RBI and 16 runs scored. Behind the plate, he helped lead the pitching staff to a 4.96 ERA over the course of the season, and threw out 32.7 percent of attempted base stealers.

Nemmers tied Ziel and senior Joe Janke for the team lead with four wins on the mound, and also struck out 32 in 36 innings. He finished the season with an ERA of 3.25, and earned complete game wins in must-win games for MLC down the stretch against Northland (May 4) and Bethany (May 10). At the plate, Nemmers batted .247 with two doubles, two triples and 14 RBI.

The Knights also won the Team Sportsmanship Award, given to the team that best exemplifies sportsmanship throughout the season. Senior third baseman Brad Essig was the MLC recipient of the Individual Sportsmanship Award, given to one player on each team for their sportsmanship during the year.

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