Niermann named First Team All-HCAC
Niermann earns third straight First Team All-Heartland honor
May 14, 2013
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University baseball team capped off its record-breaking 2013 season with seven Beavers earning All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honors for their play this season. Kyle Niermann (Napoleon) earned his third straight First Team accolade after being named Second Team All-HCAC as a freshman. Fellow seniors Miles Richardson (Granville/Newark Catholic) and Greg Franks (Smithville) were both selected Second Team All-HCAC. All three of Bluffton's weekend starters as well as battery mate Tim Webb (Delaware/Worthington Christian) were named honorable mention All-HCAC.
Leading the HCAC and coming in 12th all-time at Bluffton with a blistering .438 batting average, Kyle Niermann leaves an indelible impression on the record books and baseball program following his storied career with the Beavers. He led the Beavers to 19, 19 and 21 wins which all set or matched the school record for victories in his final three seasons at Bluffton. His school-record 71 hits place him sixth in the country and the top five have all played more games than Niermann. He is the only Beaver to put together three seasons of at least 60 hits. Niermann's 37 runs scored, 15 doubles and 90 total bases all place him in the top 10 for a single season. The dean of Bluffton hitting fanned just seven times this season in over 180 plate appearances, or less than four percent of the time.
Niermann became Bluffton's most prolific hitter midway through his final campaign and never slowed down, pushing the school record for hits to 248 and dropping 2012 graduate Tyler Stephenson (215) to #2 all-time, just one season after he went around Brad Buckingham and Tony Moore who shared the mark with 168 safeties. His .391 career average is seventh all-time while his .535 slugging percentage places him 13th. He finished his career in the top five all-time for games played (146), games started (145), at bats (634), runs scored (142), doubles (49), triples (9), RBI (118), total bases (339). His at bats and total bases are tops all-time for the Beavers. Niermann was also outstanding on the bases and in the field. His 25 stolen bases are seventh all-time, while his .988 fielding percentage tied him for 11th all-time.
Picking up Second Team All-Heartland Conference honors for the second straight season was Miles Richardson, Bluffton's four-year starter in centerfield. His 15 doubles equaled Niermann for the fourth-highest single-season total in Bluffton history, while his 34 runs scored are tied for 15th. On the hill, Richardson fanned 10.25 batters per nine innings, the fourth best performance in school history. His strikeouts helped Richardson limit the opposition to a .257 batting average (11th all-time).
For his career, Richardson finished fourth all-time with 180 hits, fifth with 111 runs scored, tied for third with 40 two-baggers, fifth with 250 total bases and seventh with 97 RBI. He was also near the top of the career record books with 147 games played, 143 games started, 571 at bats, six triples, 20 stolen bases and 20 times hit by a pitch. On the other side of the ball, Richardson held opponents to a .289 batting average (7th all-time) with 10 wins (tied for 10th), 27 games started (tied for 6th), 141 innings pitched (15th) and 99 strikeouts (12th).
Claiming his first piece of All-Heartland Conference hardware was Greg Franks. The senior designated hitter battered opposing pitching to the tune of a .345 batting average. He had a home run and 10 doubles amongst his 40 hits this season. Franks drove in 22 runs, scored 16 and posted a .457 slugging percentage while starting 31 games for the Beavers, including four behind the plate.
Sophomore Nate Simonds (Ypsilanti, Mich./Lincoln) assumed the mantle of Bluffton's ace in Florida and lived up to the billing, going at least six innings in nine of his 10 starts with his only early exit thanks to Bluffton giving him a 12-1 lead in a 14-6 win over Finlandia to start the season. A sterling 3.03 earned run average was tops for Bluffton and seventh in the Heartland Conference. His complete game at Hanover moved Simonds to the top of the list at Bluffton with 74.1 innings pitched this season. He led the Beavers with 10 starts and his 49 punchouts tied him for 10th all-time in a single season. Simonds tossed three nine-inning complete games and he held opponents to a paltry .247 batting average. His 3.37 career ERA places Simonds ninth on the all-time list.
Picking up honorable mention All-HCAC honors for the first time was junior Ben Roeschley (Graymont, Ill./Flanagan) who posted a 4-3 mark on the hill with a 4.06 ERA. He tossed 68.2 innings (5th all-time), allowing just 2.36 walks per nine innings (tied for 18th all-time) while holding opponents to .267 at the plate (tied for 15th all-time). Roeschley struck out 42 batters (tied for 18th all-time) and walked just 18 while throwing three complete games, including two shutouts. Roeschley ranks in the top 15 all-time with 10 wins, 43 appearances, two shutouts, 142.1 innings pitched and 96 strikeouts. His 2.28 walks per nine innings place Roeschley third all-time and his .284 opponent batting average is sixth all-time at Bluffton. Roeschley established a new school record in Bluffton's 6-3 win over Franklin when he fanned 13 batters.
Junior Todd Stover (Tipp City/Tippecanoe), who will graduate a semester early this December, took advantage of a solid relief stint against John Carroll in the season opener, nailing down Bluffton's number three slot in the weekend rotation for the the Beavers. Moving the ball around and hitting his spots, Stover kept opponents off balance en route to a 4.38 ERA in 49.1 innings of work. His crafty pitching was finally rewarded in Bluffton's final game of the year when Stover (1-3) earned his first victory in a 4-3 win at Hanover. He struck out 20 and walked just 15 this season, but fell victim to a defense that allowed 17 unearned runs while he was at the controls. Stover's 2.74 walks per nine innings is 11th all-time and his .300 opponent batting average is 12th all-time.
Following two seasons on the All-Heartland Conference Second Team, Tim Webb was an honorable mention selection in 2013. He hit .289 with 23 RBI and 21 runs scored. Webb finished with 13 doubles (tied for 9th all-time) and threw out 13 would-be base stealers (tied for 5th all-time). After three seasons, Webb is moving up the career record books with 122 hits (16th), 33 doubles (tied for 6th), 66 runs scored (19th), 170 total bases (17th) and 368 at bats (15th). His 33 runners caught stealing is at the top of the list while his 527 putouts and 600 chances are fourth and fifth, respectively.
In conjunction with the All-Heartland Conference awards, the conference has announced the All-HCAC Sportsmanship Team for the 2013. This award has been developed as part of a conference-wide sportsmanship initiative. Members of the All-HCAC Sportsmanship team are selected by the coaches and their teammates as individuals who demonstrate the ideals of positive sportsmanship both on and off the field/court of competition. Bluffton senior Mark Hadaya (Beavercreek) was recognized for his sportsmanship this season.
Bluffton crossed the 20-win barrier with a 21-18 mark for the most victories in school history following a season that saw the Beavers complete their first-ever sweep of Mount St. Joseph and win their first Heartland Conference series with Rose-Hulman since the Engineers joined the HCAC in 2006-07. The Beavers just missed out on their first-ever trip to the Heartland Conference tournament while earning series victories over four HCAC teams in 2013.