The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has announced its 2012 baseball award winners and four Yellowjackets found themselves on the final listing.
Senior pitcher Ethan Branum (Nisswa, Minn.), sophomore outfielder Wyatt Soderquist (Cambridge, Minn.) and freshman infielder T.J. Evanson (Lakeville, Minn.) received honorable mention in the voting of the conference coaches.
“These three guys did a great job in taking charge and trying to take our team to a new level this year,” UWS coach Eddy Morgan said. “We made some steps this year and hopefully that carries over to next season and we are able to break into the top four and get a chance at post-season play.”
The Yellowjackets finished 2012 with a 17-22 overall record and an 8-16 mark in conference play, which placed them fifth. The top four teams make the WIAC playoffs.
Branum was the most consistent pitcher for the Yellowjackets and ranked among the league leaders in several categories. He was fourth in earned run average (3.23), tied for ninth in opposing batting average (.265), fourth in innings pitched (69 2/3), 10th in strikeouts (41), tied for 10th in wins (4), tied for fifth in appearances (14) and was fifth in games started (10).
“Ethan did a great job for us. If anything I think we may have used him a little too much down the stretch, otherwise he may have been even more effective for us,” Morgan said.
Playing all but two games, Soderquist led the Yellowjackets with a .373 batting average and five triples, while ranking high in other categories, including a team-best .436 on-base percentage. Soderquist finished fifth in the WIAC in batting average, ninth in on-base percentage, tied for fifth in RBI (36), tied for second in triples and third in sacrifice bunts (7).
“Wyatt was outstanding this year. He was probably our most consistent player and really made some big strides in all aspects of his game,” Morgan said. “His future is bright.”
Evanson exploded on the scene as a freshman, giving UWS a legitimate power presence in the middle of the batting order. Evanson led the WIAC in home runs with 10. He was also seventh in slugging percentage (.600), second in RBI (41) and sixth in total bases (90). All of those numbers led the Yellowjackets.
“T.J. has a presence at the plate that we haven’t had in a while. He forces teams to pitch a little bit differently because of his power,” Morgan said. “He also understands that there are spots where he has to cut down that swing a little bit and we look forward to working on that with him as he refines his game and becomes a more complete player.”
Tom Fairbanks was the UWS entrant on the all-sportsmanship team.
“The best part is our guys that were honored are young. We get three of four back,” Morgan said. “We’re going to miss Ethan, but that’s the nature of college sports. You have these kids for a few years and then they’re gone. Someone else will come in and step up to help fill his place.
“The rest of these guys have years left and there is room for them to continue to improve. We’re excited about that.”