WILMINGTON— As the New Year approaches attention begins to turn to the start of the college baseball season, two ballplayers with ties to area received Preseason All-American honors this week by Collegiate Baseball.
UNCW junior catcher Nick Feight, the reigning Colonial Athletic Association Player-of-the-Year, and six-time All-America, received first-team recognition, while former New Hanover standout and Gardner Webb rising senior Collin Thacker was named second-team preseason All-American.
Feight is coming off a strong season in which he tied school records with 24 doubles and 21 home runs. He also set a UNCW record with 91 runs batted in, while hitting .349 and starting all 60 games in 2016.
Nationally, Feight paced the NCAA averaging 1.52 runs batted in per game while ranking second in home runs. He also was in the top-10 in total double (ninth, 24), home runs (second, 21), home runs per game (fifth, 0.35), total runs batted in (first, 91), slugging percentage (fourth, .726) and total bases (second, 175).
The Seahawks open their 2017 season on Feb. 17, 2017, against George Mason.
Thacker enjoyed a breakout season in 2016, leading the nation with 28 doubles. He hit a robust .394, with 86 hits, 46 runs scored, 46 RBI and four home runs. Thacker struck out only 16 times in 218 bats, walked 26 times and forged a strong .452 on base percentage in the middle of Gardner-Webb’s batting order.
Thacker led the Big South Conference in hits during the regular season and ranked among the league leaders in on base percentage, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage. The overall offensive season ranks as one of the best in the history of Gardner-Webb baseball.
His 28 doubles not only led NCAA Division I, but ranked second in Gardner-Webb history for a single season – just two shy of the 30 belted by Blake Lalli during the 2005 season. Lalli also led the nation in doubles that season and went on to play in Major League Baseball with the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, and Atlanta Braves.
Thacker led Gardner-Webb to one of its top seasons as a program in 2016. The ‘Dogs set a new record with 36 regular season wins and established a Division I-era record with a 37-21 campaign. GWU also finished in a tie for second in the Big South Conference regular season standings, the highest finish ever in a conference for the baseball program.