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Nafziger named All-American, headlines Chiefs’ post-season awards
Nine Members of Chiefs' baseball honored
Waubonsee Community College’s baseball team had nine members of the team recognized by the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC), the NJCAA’s Region IV Committee and the NJCAA Division III National Committee for their outstanding play this past spring. Headlining the Chiefs’ contingent of honorees was designated hitter Klay Nafziger who was named an NJCAA Division III Third Team All-American. The freshman was also selected All-ISCC First Team and All-Region First Team, along with teammates Bailey Watros and Patrick Killelea. Pitcher Jared Liebelt joined them on the All-ISCC First Team, while Ivan Santos, Devin Rose, Brandon Sparks and Kyle Kolb were each chosen to the All-ISCC Second Team. Liebelt and Rose, the Chiefs’ one-two pitching duo, were both tabbed to the All-Region Second Team. Second-year head coach Brad Unger was named the Region IV Division III and NJCAA District B Coach of the Year after guiding the Chiefs to the NJCAA Division III World Series in Kinston, North Carolina.
Nafziger, a 6’5” 225-pound left-handed hitter, batted .353 on the season with 39 runs driven in. More than half of his 60 hits were for extra bases as he tallied 115 total bases on his way to posting a .676 slugging percentage. Nafziger smacked seven triples, tying him for fifth nationally among all NJCAA Division III players in three-baggers. He also ripped 17 doubles, tying him for 18th nationally in that category. In addition Nafziger slugged eight home runs, tying him for 17th in the nation. A graduate of Roanoke-Benson High School, Nafziger was selected the District B Championship series Most Valuable Player.
Watros, a Sandwich High School graduate, batted .377 on the season as he led the Chiefs in hits with 66. Waubonsee’s leadoff man was second on the team with a .450 on-base percentage, 17 stolen bases and 175 at bats. A left-handed hitter, Watros booked 11 doubles, a pair of triples and scored 40 runs. The sophomore centerfielder made just one error on the season, posting a .983 fielding percentage while making five outfield assists.
Killelea, a middle infielder from Ottawa Marquette High School, batted .335 and led the Chiefs in six offensive categories. The sophomore drove in a team-leading 45 runs, scored 46 runs and stole 18 bases. Killelea also played in 55 of the Chiefs’ 56 games, was tops on the team in at bats with 179, and led the squad with nine sacrifice hits. In addition the right-handed hitter recorded 60 hits on the season, smacking 15 doubles, three triples and a home run.
Liebelt, a 6’1” 185-pound right-handed pitcher, finished in the top-20 nationally in seven pitching categories. The Aurora West High School graduate went 9-4, finishing tied for fifth among all NJCAA Division III pitchers in wins. Liebelt also ended up tied for fifth in strikeouts with 100, the fourth most ever by a Waubonsee pitcher. The freshman tied for fifth nationally with 13 starts, and was tied for fourth with seven complete games. Liebelt’s 81 innings pitched placed him seventh on that list, his 2.11 earned-run-average was 18th nationally and he ended up 20th with an average of 11.11 strikeouts per nine innings. The Chiefs lead pitcher allowed just 56 hits as opponents batted only .211 against him. Twice during the season Liebelt was tabbed the NJCAA Division III Pitcher of the Week, and he was selected the Most Valuable Player of the Region IV Tournament.
Santos, a graduate of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Miami, Fla., finished the season with a .324 batting average, 43 runs scored and 34 knocked in. The Chiefs’ leftfielder tied the school-record for triples in a season with nine, which put him second nationally among all NJCAA Division III players. The 5’4” 180-pound Santos compiled a .647 slugging percentage, finishing second on the team with seven home runs. The freshman led the Chiefs with 19 walks and was hit by pitch a dozen times, on his way to posting a .444 on-base percentage. Santos also swiped 17 bases in 20 attempts.
A right-handed pitcher, Rose went 7-3 with a 2.35 earned-run-average in 13 starts, tying him for fifth nationally in games started. He tossed seven complete games, which tied him for fourth nationally in that category. A graduate of Tuscola High School in central Illinois, Rose finished fourth in the nation in innings pitched with 84 and a third. The sophomore finished seventh nationally with 96 strikeouts, an average of 10.25 per nine innings pitched. Rose also allowed just 55 hits as opponents batted only .204 against him. He was named the NJCAA Division III Pitcher of the Week the final week of the regular season.
The left-handed hitting Sparks finished the season with a team-leading .395 batting average. The freshman also led Waubonsee with a .453 on-base percentage. Sparks, a graduate of St. Joseph-Ogden High School, swiped 14 bases despite missing a dozen games due to a late season injury. In conference play Sparks booked a .433 batting average, garnering at least one hit or more in eight of the 10 ISCC games he appeared in.
Kolb, also a freshman from Roanoke-Benson High School, finished with a .311 batting average. The Chiefs’ third baseman collected 50 hits, including eight doubles, two triples and a home run, while knocking in 24 runs. In conference action Kolb batted .359 with seven runs driven in and eight runs scored.
Unger, a native of Plainfield, guided the Chiefs to 37 wins this season. Seeded fourth, Waubonsee knocked off two nationally-ranked teams on the way to capturing the Region IV Division III title for the third time in the last four years. Waubonsee went on to convincingly win the District B crown and a berth in the NJCAA Division III World Series for the fourth time in the last seven years. Unger’s crew finished tied for seventh in the nation and ranked eighth in the final NJCAA Division III poll. The Chiefs ended the 2016 campaign in the top-20 nationally in nine offensive and four pitching categories. Waubonsee led all NJCAA Division III teams with a school-record 32 triples, were fifth in doubles with a Waubonsee record 114, and ninth in stolen bases with 123 and ninth in hits with 512. The Chiefs’ pitchers finished third nationally in strikeouts with a school-record 411 and were fifth with 409 and a third innings pitched, while compiling a sparkling team earned-run-average of 3.30 overall.