Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
After belting three home runs during a five games last week, Kentucky sophomore left-handed pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week.
Reed, a Terre Haute South grad, earned SEC Player of the Week for the first time in his career and was also named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week on Monday
A 6-foot-4, 245-pounder, Reed hit .526 (10-for-19) during the five-game week, with a double, three homers and 15 RBI. A preseason All-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Reed collected a 1.053 slugging and a .609 on-base percentage during the week as the seventh-ranked Wildcats extended their winning streak to seven games.
In the home-opening win over Murray State last Tuesday, Reed ripped a first-inning, three-run homer to give UK an early lead, finishing with four RBI.
In a series-opening win over Akron, Reed started on the mound and worked his first quality start of the year, tossing six innings and allowing two runs with four strikeouts. At the plate, he went 4-for-5 with five RBI and a blast over the right field fence.
“A.J.’s performance on the mound was better than it has been,” UK coach Gary Henderson told Lex18.com. “It hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t been as good as he is going to be. It was a real step forward with his velocity, command and his secondary command. All of it was good. Obviously, his at bats were outstanding and he seems to be seeing it really well.”
The always modest Reed downplayed his success in that win over the Zips.
“I felt pretty good on the mound [Friday],” Reed said. “I was just trying to throw strikes, keep the ball down and make my pitches, which I did for the most part. I was seeing the ball well today at the plate, and I just did what I could to try to get some hits.”
He homered for the second consecutive game on Saturday to help UK clinch the series, going 3-for-4 with three RBI. In the series finale, Reed ripped a double off the centerfield wall to clear the bases and raise his RBI total to 15 in five games.
In 11 starts at the plate in 2013, Reed leads the SEC with four homers, batting .409 with 11 runs. On the mound, Reed — the first consensus first-team freshman All-America honoree in UK history — has made three Friday-night starts, with a 2-1 record and a 4.70 ERA. In his career, Reed has hit .320 with eight homers and 65 RBI and has a 7-4 record with a 3.00 ERA on the bump.
• Sponsler top NCAC newcomer — Wabash College freshman Ross Sponsler was named the 2013 North Coast Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Newcomer of the Year by the league’s coaches, and was the lone freshman to earn All-NCAC honors as a second-team selection.
The Terre Haute North grad led Wabash in scoring with a 12.7 points-per-game average. Sponsler also led the Little Giants in total points (291) and free throw shooting percentage (74-of-91 for .813).
Sponsler’s scoring average placed him 14th among NCAC basketball players this season. His 43 made three-point shots in 23 games (1.9 per game) was the eighth-best average in the league.
He averaged 12.9 points per game in 15 NCAC games this season. Sponsler is the first Wabash player to earn NCAC Newcomer of the Year honors.
• Bits and pieces — Former Indiana State basketball player Dwayne Lathan has started his professional career well in Japan.
Lathan is playing for Osaka Evessa, and ranks fourth on the team in scoring at 10.5 points per game. He is shooting 42.7 percent from the field, including 23.7 from 3-point range, and is hitting 68.6 percent of his free throws. The high-jumping Lathan also chips in with 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and one steal per game.
His coach is former NBA standout Bill Cartwright.
• Indiana State redshirt freshman quarterback Robert Tonyan was recently honored by being added to the Wall of Fame at his alma mater of McHenry (Ill.) High School.
McHenry was the Northwest Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year last winter and is McHenry’s career leader in passing yardage.
• Shakamak senior basketball standout Brodie Crowe is narrowing down his college choices, and is deciding between Anderson and Greenville (Ill.)
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at tribstarcollege