RedStorm slugger named All-American

Rio Grande senior outfielder Shane Spies was
named to the NAIA All-America First Team.

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Shane Spies’ final season in a University of Rio Grande baseball uniform turned out to be a special one after all.

The senior left fielder has been named to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) 2013 Baseball All-America First Team by the NAIA-Baseball Coaches Association (NAIA-BCA) All-America Selection Committee.

The 17-player first- and second team lists, as well as 35 honorable mention selections were announced by the NAIA national office in Kansas City, Mo.

Spies becomes just the second first team baseball All-American in Rio Grande history, joining Tyler Schunk, who turned the trick in 2010.

“We’re very, very happy for Shane. He put up some tremendous numbers, both this year and during his career at Rio Grande,” veteran Rio head coach Brad Warnimont said. “He’s got his name in the record book in some places where it could be there for a long, long time. It’s a well-deserved honor.”

Spies batted .356 with 15 home runs and 54 runs batted in for the RedStorm, which finished 36-20 after a third-place finish in the Mid-South Conference tournament. His 15 home runs also tied the single-season school record previously set by David Robinson in 1995.

The Polk, Ohio native also had 16 doubles and one triple to go along with 127 total bases, a .706 slugging percentage and a .471 on-base percentage.

“Honestly, it was breathtaking - a great personal accomplishment,” Spies said, when asked about his reaction to hearing the news. “It’s a great personal accomplishment, similar to being named the Conference Player of the Year or the Most Valuable Player in high school, only at a higher level. I want to thank my teammates for helping me earn it. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Prior to the start of post-season play, Spies led the MSC in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage and total bases. Eight of his home runs came in conference play and he out-homered five MSC teams in league play, yet he still finished a distant second to Lindsey Wilson’s Manny Alonso in voting for MSC Player of the Year honors.

Spies, who led the country in home runs for most of the season, finished in a four-way tie for second nationally in home runs, while tying for sixth nationally in slugging percentage and 15th in total bases.

“It’s quite an honor,” Spies said. “I thought I might have a chance (of being named to the team) because I put up some pretty good numbers compared to other players in the country and I hit 15 jacks playing in Ohio where we played half of our season during the winter.”

Spies set a single-game school record when he drove in eight runs in a win over Roosevelt (IL) University on February 16, while also tying the single-game school record of three doubles in the same contest. His four walks against Ohio-Chillicothe on March 12 also tied a single-game school record.

The two-time first team All-MSC selection also finished his Rio Grande career as the school record holder in home runs (31) and runs batted in (131).

“It’s nice to see the hard work, the sacrifice and the dedication pay off,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s a lot easier to lay in bed than it is to get up at 6 a.m. and try to make yourself a better player.”

Spies was the only player from a Mid-South Conference school named to either the first or second units.

Alonso and Darren Travers from Lindsey Wilson and Cumberland University’s Anthony Gomez were among those on the honorable mention list.

Oklahoma Baptist’s Matt Page, one of the three players Spies tied with on the national home run leaders list, was named the NAIA Player of the Year.

“I also want to thank Teddy Tom, the head coach at Shawnee State, for helping to push me at the national level,” Spies said. “It’s much appreciated.”