College Insider: Local trio in major roles for NCAA-bound Earlham

Three local players have led Earlham College to the NCAA Division III baseball tournament for the first time in school history.

Senior center fielder Nate Lynch, a Talawanda High School graduate, has been named Most Valuable Player in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Lynch leads the HCAC in batting average (.411) and stolen bases (46) and is the Quakers’ program leader in hits, runs scored and steals. He has four doubles, five triples, one home run, 32 RBIs and 52 runs this year.

Senior pitcher Howie Smith (Talawanda) is the HCAC’s Most Outstanding Pitcher and Earlham’s career leader in wins (22).

The right-hander is 8-3 with a 2.47 earned run average this spring. He’s made 17 appearances (10 starts) and has 68 strikeouts in 87.1 innings.

Senior second baseman/outfielder Matt Barger (Edgewood) is also an HCAC first-teamer and broke the Quakers’ single-season record for doubles (18) in 2017.

Barger is hitting .320 with three homers, 25 RBIs, 48 runs and 25 stolen bases.

Earlham (29-12) captured the conference regular-season and tournament titles and is riding a 10-game winning streak.

The Quakers are seeded eighth in the eight-team NCAA Mideast Regional in Washington, Pa. They will open against No. 1 Wooster on Thursday at 1:15 p.m.

The other teams in the regional are SUNY Cortland (2), LaRoche (3), host Washington & Jefferson (4), Misericordia (5), Keystone (6) and DePauw (7).

Softball: Freshman utility player/pitcher Brooklynn Grein (Fairfield) had the No. 2 batting average this spring for Hiram.

Grein hit .275 with a triple and five RBIs for the Terriers, who finished 8-30 overall and 3-13 in the North Coast Athletic Conference. She was 1-3 with an 8.46 earned run average in the circle.

Men's lacrosse: Freshman defender Matthew Willenbrink (Fenwick) started every game this season for Wilmington, notching one goal and one assist.

The Quakers were 5-11 overall and 2-6 in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

About the Author