by Missouri State Athletics
Headlined by Drew Millas’ repeat first-team selection, as well as Dakota Kotowski’s citation as Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, five Missouri State baseball players were selected for All-MVC honors Tuesday by the league’s head coaches.
Millas was chosen for the Valley’s top postseason squad as a catcher after earning the same honor as a designated hitter last spring, while Kotowski was one of four outfielders tabbed for first-team recognition. MSU also placed two players on The Valley’s second team, with outfielder Jack Duffy picking up his first All-MVC award and pitcher Logan Wiley notching his second-consecutive all-conference nod. Additionally, first baseman Ben Whetstone earned honorable mention laurels, while also taking home an MVC All-Defensive Team honor as well.
Kotowski, made an immediate impact for the Bears in his first season in Maroon and White, becoming the ninth MSU player to be honored as the top freshman in The Valley. He ranks second overall in the MVC in home runs (11) and third in slugging percentage (.578) and rates among the top 15 MVC hitters in batting, slugging, on-base percentage, home runs, RBI, total bases and walks during league play. The Channahon, Ill., native’s home run total ranks third on MSU’s freshman chart, trailing only former big leaguers Ryan Howard (19 in 1999) and Jason Hart (15 in 1996).
Millas has been one of the Bears’ hottest hitters down the stretch, hitting .267 with four home runs and 24 RBIs for the season to date. He turned in his most productive stretch over the last six weeks, registering a career-best streak of 22-consecutive games reaching base safely via a hit, walk or hit by pitch from April 2-May 10. Over the Bears’ last 37 games since March 16, the junior Swansea, Ill., product has recorded a hit in 30 contests, batting .293 with four home runs and 19 RBIs while posting 44 hits and a team-high nine doubles.
Duffy batted. 341 in MVC play and a team-leading .299 during the regular season to garner his first all-conference selection. The Kansas City, Mo., product has recorded 10 multi-hit performances, including a career-best four-hit effort vs. New Orleans on April 20, and has reached base safely in 20 of the 21 contests. Since moving to the top of the Bears’ batting order on April 12, the junior has logged a .348 batting mark in MSU’s last 21 games.
Wiley, a junior right-hander, has been MSU’s most consistent starter since the beginning of Valley play, winning four-consecutive decisions and posting a 2.89 ERA in his last eight starts. Over the same span, Wiley has fanned 51 hitters in 53.0 innings, completing at least 5.0 innings in all eight starts since March 31. The Springfield, Mo., product ranks among the conference’s top hurlers in several statistical categories during Valley play with 44.0 innings pitched (fourth), three victories (third), 42 strikeouts (fourth) and a 3.07 ERA (sixth).
Whetstone registered a strong all-around junior campaign to pick up his first All-MVC selection. The Bears’ junior first baseman logged six multi-hit performances during a career-best 13-game hit streak in April, with the Overland Park, Kan., product hitting a team-best .388 (19-for-49) with four homers and 17 RBIs during his streak. Whetstone, who has started 110 consecutive games at first for the Bears, led the conference in double plays turned (45), putouts (393) and total defensive chances (423) to earn his first MVC All-Defensive Team honor as well.
The Bears (19-34, 10-11 MVC) enter the 2019 MVC Baseball Championship as the No. 6 seed will open tourney play with a 2 p.m. game this afternoon against the seventh-seeded Valparaiso Crusaders at Duffy Bass Field.