Morton product Cody Earl earned quite the honor on Friday.
The 2015 Times Baseball Player of the Year was named the Crossroads League Player of the Year after a tremendous junior campaign.
Earl was one of the NAIA’s best players this spring, ranking in the top 40 in the country in four categories. He is currently 14th in slugging percentage (.742), 16th in doubles (21), while leading the Knights in both hits (68) and RBIs (41).
Earl, who was two doubles shy of the single-season program record, also blasted 10 home runs and carried a .932 fielding percentage at the hot corner.
• Franklin College’s Frank Podkul (Andrean), Christian Sullivan (Lake Central) and Alex Mis (Munster) were named to the first team in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Podkul, a senior, earned his third career All-HCAC honor. The third baseman is hitting .340 with a Division III-leading 16 homers and conference-best 57 RBIs. He’s already set program records for single-season home runs and career home runs (27).
Sullivan, a senior pitcher, is 6-0 on the season with a 3.01 ERA in 13 appearances. He was the team’s Game 1 weekend starter all season long.
Mis had an impressive sophomore campaign with a .391 average to go with three homers and 20 RBIs. His 31 walks were tied for second on the team and his .568 on-base percentage was tops on the team.
The trio helped the Grizzlies to a 38-3 record, including a 17-1 mark in league play. Franklin earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
• Saint Leo University’s Amir Wright (Griffith) was named second team to the Sunshine State Conference.
The sophomore outfielder started all 48 games and batted .335 with eight doubles and two homers. Wright drove in 39 while scoring 47. He also added 11 stolen bases and a pair of defensive assists. The team’s leadoff hitter, Wright drew a team-high tying 29 walks and was hit by pitch three times.
• Nebraska’s Jesse Wilkening (Hanover Central) leads the team with 55 RBIs, while ranking second in batting (.366), homers (nine), and doubles (12).
Oregon’s Miranda Elish (Crown Point) was a first team all-Pac-12 selection.
The sophomore pitcher is 22-1 on the season with a seven-inning no-hitter to her name. Elish has a 0.92 ERA with two saves and has struck out 221 batters in 152 1/3 innings. The Ducks earned the overall No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament. Elish went the distance with 11 strikeouts in Saturday night’s 3-0 victory over Drake to send the Ducks (50-7) to the NCAA Super Regionals. She also fired a four-hitter with 14 strikeouts in a 4-0 victory over the University of Albany on Friday,
• Manchester University’s Laurren Ladwig (Lake Central) was named first team to the NCAA Division III All-Region team by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
The senior second baseman was stellar in her career for the Spartans. She finished as the program’s all-time leader in home runs (44) and set the single-season mark this past season with 19. Ladwig also leads NCAA Division III in home runs and home runs per game (0.5).
• Saint Xavier’s Tori Keilman (Bishop Noll) drove in the game-winning run with a single in the team’s stunning 1-0 victory over No. 10 Vanguard at the Columbia (Kentucky) Bracket of the NAIA Softball National Championship's opening round.
Keilman was 2-for-3 for the Cougars, who also knocked off No. 21 Freed-Hardeman (Tennessee).
However, the team fell in the championship round as it dropped a pair of games to Freed-Hardeman.
Keilman, a sophomore, finished the season with a .343 average. She added 35 RBIs, 27 runs, five homers and three triples. She started 44 games.
• Indiana Wesleyan’s Kira Madl (St. John native/homeschooled) went 3-for-4 with two RBIs as the team beat William Carey 5-1 at the NAIA playoffs in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Madl is hitting .406 with 21 doubles, eight homers, and 47 RBIs. She’s tied for 10th in the NAIA in doubles.
Indiana Wesleyan earned the No. 5 seed and will play No. 4 Science & Arts (Oklahoma) in the NAIA Softball World Series, which is set for Friday through May 31 in Clermont, Florida.
Women’s track and field
Indiana State’s Taylor Austin (Griffith) qualified for the NCAA East Region Preliminary Round Championships, which take place Thursday through Saturday in Tampa, Florida.
Austin owns the school-record time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9 minutes, 54.01 seconds). It is the second-best time in the East heading into prelim round. The senior just won her third consecutive Missouri Valley Conference title in the steeplechase and is going to the East Regional for the second time. Last season, Austin was eighth in the event and earned a trip to the national meet in Oregon where she gathered Honorable Mention All-American honors.
Men’s track and field
Marquette’s Daniel Armstrong (Michigan City) qualified for the NCAA West Prelims in Sacramento, California, in the high jump set for Thursday through Saturday.
Armstrong, who advanced last season, is coming off of his second-straight Big East outdoor high jump title with a leap of 2.16 meters (7 feet, 1 inch). The sophomore ranks 13th in the West Region and 31st nationally.