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Five baseball players named Academic All-MAC

June 19, 2008

KALAMAZOO--More than one-quarter of the baseball players honored with Academic All-Mid-American Conference status this year hail from the same university--Western Michigan University.

An honor reserved for student-athletes who set the bar on the field and in the classroom, Academic All-MAC players must have at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average and participate in at least 50 percent of the games in a season. This year, WMU has five athletes on the Academic All-MAC Team--more than any other university in the conference.

Ethan Hollingsworth, a junior from Joliet, Ill., is named Academic All-MAC for the second-straight season. Receiving Academic All-MAC honors for the first time are teammates Pedro Dager, a junior from Carcacas, Venezuela; Chris Lewis, a junior from Ada, Mich.; Billy Morrison, a sophomore from Novi, Mich.; and Joe Sheets, a senior from Jackson, Mich.

Hollingsworth maintained a 3.72 cumulative grade point average as a pre-management major at WMU before being drafted in the fourth round (137th overall) of the MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. While at WMU, Hollingsworth was named First Team All-MAC and MAC Pitcher of the Week (4/7). As the Broncos' No. 1 starter, he compiled a 5-5 record with a 3.84 ERA, maintaining the third-best ERA in the MAC for all-conference games (3.74). He struck out 77 batters (third most in MAC) in 84.1 innings pitched (fourth-most innings pitched in the MAC), while his 197 career strikeouts ranks as the fourth most in school history. Hollingsworth held opposing hitters to a .262 batting average and issued just 26 walks. He struck out a season-high 10 batters against Miami and threw one shutout game.

Dager is majoring in computer information systems and has a cumulative grade point average of 3.54. He has been named Second Team All-MAC and MAC Player of the Week (5/5), and has maintained a .340 batting average. He hit four home runs and six doubles, driving in 24 runs and scoring 26. He had a .583 slugging percentage in conference play and .526 overall. He improved his batting average .24 from last season and went 4-for-5 in stolen base attempts.

Lewis is majoring in biomedical sciences and has a cumulative grade point average of 3.30. He was one of two players from the MAC to be named to the ESPN Magazine Academic All-District First Team, and was also named First Team All-MAC. He ranked second in the conference for his batting average (.390) and ninth in all-conference games (.378). He also led the MAC in on-base percentage (.488) and ranked ninth in hits (71) and RBIs (49). Lewis struck out just eight times in 182 at-bats, ranking him the 10th-toughest strikeout in NCAA Division I. His batting average jumped .90 from his first season and he ended the year with a season-high 15-game hitting streak. He had eight home runs, 13 doubles, 71 hits and 44 runs, leading WMU in RBIs and slugging percentage (.593).

Morrison maintained a 3.68 cumulative grade point average as a marketing major at WMU before being drafted in the ninth round (282nd overall) of the MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners. As the Broncos' No. 2 starter, he compiled a 6-2 record with a 4.76 ERA, going 4-1 in MAC play (fourth-most MAC wins). He struck out 43 batters in 81.1 innings pitched (fifth-most innings pitched in the MAC). He held opposing hitters to a .267 batting average and .253 in MAC play, issuing just 26 walks. Morrison threw six innings or more in nine of 13 starts, and threw two complete-game shutouts.

Sheets is majoring in accountancy and has a cumulative grade point average of 3.81. He batted .286 with 10 home runs, 19 doubles and four triples (fifth most in MAC), and scored 55 runs. He ties for third-most doubles and fourth-most runs in a single season at WMU. Sheets also led WMU in total bases (120) and multi-RBI games (14), while ranking second in multi-hit games (22), and third in hits (63) and RBIs (39). He was 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts and one of just four Broncos to start and play in all 53 games. Also a relief pitcher, Sheets maintained a 2.20 ERA, allowing just five runs (four earned) in 16.1 innings pitched, appearing in 11 games and holding opposing hitters to a .190 batting average.

The WMU baseball team has seen its academic progress improve every semester under head coach Randy Ford's leadership. This year, the Broncos recorded a team grade point average of 3.21 during the spring semester--the highest in Ford's career at WMU. The team also was honored for the second-straight season by the NCAA for posting an Academic Progress Rate in the top 10 percent nationwide for its respective sport.

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, (269) 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

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