CLEVELAND, Ohio – Following a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, Denison baseball earned seven All-North Coast Athletic Conference honors on Tuesday morning, headlined by senior Tanner Johnson as the NCAC Player of the Year and senior Perley Provost as the conference's Pitcher of the Year.
Johnson is the second player in program history to earn the conference's player of the year award, which was last accomplished by Derek Johnson in 2001. Also garnering first-team recognition for the second year in a row, the Jefferson, Wisconsin native is currently hitting .390 with 57 runs scored, 53 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.
He also ranks top five in the NCAC in 11 different offensive categories, including second overall in stolen bases, runs scored, slugging percentage (.720), home runs (10), total bases (118) and walks (35). In the conference tournament game against Wooster on May 11, Johnson recorded the 200th hit of his career on a two-run home run, becoming the fourth player in Big Red history with 200 or more hits.
As DU's first pitcher of the year recipient since Cam Cowden in 2004, Provost also notched a first-team selection after a season for the ages with 10 wins (leads NCAC), 44 strikeouts and a 2.49 earned run average. His 10 wins in 2018 tie Cowden (2004) for the most all-time in a single season, while his 21 career victories are second-most in program history.
Fellow seniors Sam Frazen and Jack Blanchard also earned All-NCAC first-team honors, marking the second-consecutive first-team selection for Blanchard and the first all-conference award for Frazen. Logging career-highs in nine different offensive categories this season for the Big Red, Frazen is hitting .329 with 38 RBIs, 16 doubles, and four home runs. He also tops the conference from behind the plate with six successful pick-offs and 15 runners caught stealing.
For Blanchard, he continues to add to his resume as one of the best shortstops in the country following a .338 batting average in 2018 with 38 runs scored and 20 doubles. His 20 doubles rank sixth in all of Division III. Also as Denison's all-time assist leader, the Evanston, Illinois native has racked up 115 assists this season, good for fourth in the conference.
Rounding out DU's first-team honors was junior Mikey Rivera, who became the Big Red's go-to reliever in 2018 while leading the NCAC in earned run average (1.73), opposing batting average (.176) and tied for the lead with eight saves.
Also receiving recognition was junior Grady Paine, who made his All-NCAC debut with a second-team selection. In his first season as an every-day starter as the Big Red's designated hitter, Paine hit .328 with 29 runs batted in and scored 34 runs. He is also tied for fourth on the team with four home runs.
In addition to the player awards, head coach Mike Deegan was named the NCAC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career. In his sixth season at the helm of DU, Deegan guided the Big Red to an overall mark of 32-10, breaking the previous single-season record of 31 wins last set in 2004. They have also added single-season records in doubles (101), home runs (36), fielding percentage (.967) and double plays turned (38) while going 12-6 against regionally ranked opponents and 15-3 in the conference. He is only 30 wins away (153) from becoming Denison's all-time leader in career wins.
The Big Red will return to the diamond on Thursday, May 17 when they face Christopher Newport (32-10) at 7 p.m. in Holly Springs, North Carolina at the NCAA Division III South Regional.