By: Abbey Lipcsik
CLEVELAND, Ohio – With the 2017 season being at a close, the Terriers have added three conference accolades to the books, announced the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) office on Monday morning.
For the first time in program history, freshman Hank Clegg has been named the 2017 Newcomer of the Year in addition to earning second-team All-NCAC honors, while senior Brandon Chesmar was tabbed an honorable mention all-conference selection.
"It was very exciting to have two of our players honored by the NCAC," said head coach Howard Jenter. "Being in one of the top Division III conferences in the country, it says a lot about our team setting more expectations and continuing to set the bar at a higher level."
Clegg was a key component in orchestrating the second-largest turnaround in school history, posting a 4-1 record on the season. Prior to improving their win total by nine (16-19), the largest increase came in the 2003 season when Hiram made an 11-game surge to finish 21-16.
The pitcher has quickly made his name known throughout the NCAC, leading the conference or being one of the top players in several categories. Clegg posted conference-best numbers in both opponent batting average (.194) and hits (35). He also ranked second in the NCAC in ERA (2.54) and earned runs (14).
The honors are not the first that Clegg has received this season. He was previously named the NCAC Pitcher of the Week two times throughout the season, making him the first Terrier ever to garner multiple weekly awards. It also marked the first time that Hiram received the POW award more than once in a single season.
His first accolade came in the first week of the season when the Terriers traveled to Fort Myers for their 10-game road trip. In his two appearances, the pitcher finished 1-0, with his first win coming in a 6-1 victory over The US Merchant Marine Academy. Clegg pitched all seven innings to record the first complete game of his career, giving up one run on three hits. He also tallied seven strikeouts and recorded a .129 opponent batting average.
Clegg was also named the conference POW for his work against Oberlin when Hiram defeated the Yeomen 6-1 in game one of the four-game series back in April. After pitching eight innings, he surrendered one run on five hits, holding Oberlin to a .172 batting average. He also notched a career-high 10 strikeouts.
On the season, Clegg has proved himself to be the stud of Terrier pitching. In his 49.2 innings pitched, he led the squad in strikeouts, ringing up 39 batters over his nine starts. He averaged 7.09 strikeouts per nine innings, also marking a team-high.
"Hank worked very hard to prepare for a good freshman season and it clearly paid off," added Jenter. "To be honored as a second team all-conference selection as well as being named Newcomer of the Year is quite an accomplishment. I look forward to seeing him improve as he meets the challenges over the next three years."
This marks the second season that Chesmar was named an honorable mention selection. He also garnered the award last season as a junior.
The first baseman was a leader of the Hiram offense, especially against conference rivals. Chesmar led the Terriers in hits (16) as well as doubles (4) in addition to ranking second the team with a .308 batting average. He also finished third with eight RBIs.
Throughout the season, Chesmar recorded 11 multi-hit games, batting 3-4 in four of them. His best game came in the Terriers' 11-1 win over Westminster in game one of the final series of the season. The first baseman posted three hits, including a double, while adding three RBIs.
On defense, Chesmar topped the Terrier infield and placed second on the team what a .980 fielding percentage.
"Since he arrived as a freshman, Brandon has been the heart and soul of Hiram baseball. As a first baseman and a pitcher, he has had a tremendous impact on every aspect of our team. For him to be honored two years in a row by the conference tells you how much he has meant to the team and the program as a whole. The honor is very well-deserved."