NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk State's stellar baseball season was recognized by its conference Tuesday.
Spartans pitcher Devin Hemmerich was voted Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year. The Norfolk native (Atlantic Shores Christian) led the MEAC with nine wins, 111 strikeouts, a 1.74 ERA, six complete games and a .191 opponents’ batting average. This year, he set new NSU records for strikeouts in a season and career (308) and has tied the school mark for career wins (23) entering this week’s conference tournament.
After leading the MEAC in slugging percentage (.573), ranking second in batting average (.374) and tying for second in doubles (17), Spartans infielder/pitcher Alex Mauricio was voted MEAC Player of the Year. He's NSU's first-ever MEAC Player of the Year award winner.
However, that's not the "first ever hardware" the Spartans really want. With the MEAC tournament this weekend, top-seeded NSU eyes its first ever conference crown.
"That's our ultimate goal," admitted NSU head baseball coach Claudell Clark. "We've certainly been blessed and fortunate with a lot of success, but our ultimate goal is that championship and we've got to keep pushing until we get it."
"We'll have to coach some of the younger guys," Hemmerich said about preparing for the MEAC tournament. "They'll want to change up how they play and play extra hard. That's not them, that's not who we are. If we keep playing the baseball we've been playing all year and I don't think there's a team in the tournament that can beat us."
As the top-seed in the north division, Norfolk State earns a first round by in the double-elimination tournament. Thursday at 3:30pm, the Spartans (24-20, 16-7 MEAC North) face the winner of Wednesday's first-round game between South No. 2 North Carolina A&T and North No. 3 Maryland Eastern Shore in Salisbury, Maryland at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, the home of the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds.
NSU has played in the MEAC title game two of the past three seasons, but has never won the conference title. The winner of the league championship earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.