Gilmore, Bodine Highlight Eight Chants with Sun Belt Postseason Honors

Coastal Carolina baseball
Coastal Carolina baseball(WMBF)
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 2:21 PM EDT
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NEW ORLEANS – Coastal Carolina head coach Gary Gilmore was named the Sun Belt Conference Ron Maestri Coach of the Year while true freshman catcher Caden Bodine was tabbed the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year as eight Chanticleers garnered Sun Belt Conference postseason recognition the league office announced on Monday.

Named to the All-Sun Belt first team was four Chants in Bodine, Teddy Sharkey, Nick Lucky, and Derek Bender, while named to the second team were Zack Beach, Payton Eeles, and Graham Brown.

Coastal won the 2023 Sun Belt Conference Regular-Season Championship, the Chants’ third regular-season title since joining the Sun Belt in 2017 (2017, 2018, and 2023) and the 19th in program history.

The Chanticleers finished the conference season at 23-7 overall, one game in front of nationally-ranked Southern Miss at 22-8.

CCU will be the No. 1 seed in this week’s 2023 Guardian Credit Union Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship Tournament (Full Bracket Here).

The Chanticleers finished the regular season at 37-17 overall and did not lose a single weekend series.

Gary Gilmore – Coach of the Year

Picking up his 11th conference coach of the year honor overall and his second Sun Belt Conference Ron Maestri Coach of the Year award (2018), Gilmore guided the Chanticleers to their third Sun Belt Conference Regular-Season title and a 23-7 overall conference record. The Chants, who were picked to finish fifth in the 2023 Sun Belt Conference Coaches Preseason Poll, did not drop a weekend series conference and non-conference all season long and extended their conference series winning streak to 16-straight SBC series wins, which included sweeps over Georgia State, South Alabama, and Marshall.

CCU ranked as high as No. 5 nationally throughout the season and had the highest RPI and strength of schedule among all SBC teams all season long. CCU led the Sun Belt in hitting (.314), runs (521), hits (595), doubles (133), RBIs (484), slugging percentage (.545), hit-by-pitch (118), on-base percentage (.425), sacrifice flies (35), and had a pitching staff that led the SBC with a 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings average and was second in total strikeouts with 573.

Caden Bodine – Freshman of the Year/All-Sun Belt First Team

Tabbed the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, Bodine was also named to the All-Sun Belt first team as a catcher.

He becomes the sixth conference rookie or freshman of the year in program history and the first since Cory Wood in 2017.

The switch-hitting catcher has had one of the best starts to a collegiate career that a player could have, as he ranks in the top 10 in the Sun Belt Conference in batting average (.369), on-base percentage (.468), and OPS (1.082) over 47 games, playing predominately behind the plate. He has also hit nine home runs and 16 doubles while driving in 39 RBIs and scoring 55 runs.

On top of that, Bodine has struck out just 18 times and walked 33 times on the season while hitting in the middle of the best offense in the SBC. Bodine has totaled 22 multi-hit games and 12 multi-RBI games on the season at the plate, while defensively, he has thrown out 14 would-be base stealers and turned three double plays in strike-them-out and throw-them-outs.

He upped his numbers at the plate across the board in SBC play, including hitting over .400 with a .727 slugging percentage. He ranks in the top five in league play in average (.404), slugging percentage (.727), on-base percentage (.504), OPS (1.231), runs scored (38), and doubles (14).

Teddy Sharkey - All-Sun Belt First Team

Named to the All-Sun Belt first team as the relief pitcher, Sharkey has been one of the most important players on the roster for the Chants this season.

Named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list and tabbed a Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week on April 17, Sharkey is the only pitcher to rank in the top 10 in the SBC in both wins (7) and saves (8) this season. The junior has pitched in 22 games for the Chants on the season, striking out 62 hitters over 42.2 innings of work out of the bullpen. He has posted a 2.74 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and held opponents to a .213 batting average on the year. Seven of his eight saves have been 1.2 innings or longer, while in six of his seven wins, he threw 2.1 innings or more in the late innings in the contest.

In SBC play, Sharkey was 5-1 with two saves in 12 appearances and struck out 41 batters compared to just 10 walks over 26.0 innings.

Nick Lucky - All-Sun Belt First Team

Picking up first-team honors in the outfield was Lucky, as the super senior showed his leadership this season in leading a young team to the SBC regular-season championship while moving from left field to center field.

The fifth-year Chant played in all 54 games, hitting .313 with 13 home runs, a triple, 16 doubles, 54 RBIs, and 58 runs scored. He posted a .605 slugging percentage and a .448 on-base percentage while walking a team-high 38 times and getting hit by a pitch 12 times. He totaled not one but two on-base streaks of 20-plus games on the season, including finishing the regular-season reaching base in 26 consecutive games. The left-handed hitter also recorded 16 multiple-hit games and 12 multiple-RBI games on the year overall.

He turned it up at the plate in conference play, ranking in the top 10 in 10 offensive categories – batting average (.367), slugging percentage (.700), on-base percentage (.480), OPS (1.180), runs scored (40) - the most in SBC play in the league - hits (44), RBIs (42), home runs (10), and stolen bases (12).

Lucky was clutch all season long, as he hit the go-ahead solo home run in the top of the 10th inning in the come-from-behind win over Georgia State (April 2) and hit a solo home run with two outs in the top of the ninth to tie the game up at 2-2 in CCU’s 11-inning, 3-2 win on the road at Louisiana (April 30).

On the season, he played in his 200th career game, recorded his 200th career hit, and drove in his 150th career RBI.

Derek Bender - All-Sun Belt First Team

Earning all-conference honors for the first time in his young career, Bender was named to the first team as the designated hitter.

Bender is on pace for a record-setting year for the Chants, as he is tied for the SBC lead in RBIs with 78, four away from the CCU single-season school record of 82. While hitting in the cleanup spot in the top offense in the Sun Belt, Bender ranks in the top 10 in the SBC in batting average (.357), slugging percentage (.685), OPS (1.098), hits (76), RBIs (78), and home runs (18) overall on the season. He has totaled 26 multiple-hit games, a team-high, and 19 multiple-RBI games on the year, including a career-high five RBIs in five different games. He has reached base safely in 48 of the 53 games in which he played and scored a run in 38 of the 53 games he saw action in while also blasting two home runs in the same game three times on the year – versus No. 2 Wake Forest (March 7), Georgia Southern (April 7) and Southern Miss (April 21).

Bender posted multiple double-digit hit streaks on the year, including a career-high 13-game hitting streak.

He was just as good in league play as he ranked in the top 10 in RBIs (43), home runs (11), hits (45), runs (36), and slugging percentage (.677) in 30 SBC contests.

Zack Beach - All-Sun Belt Second Team

Picking up second-team honors at first base was Beach, who has been the power guy in the CCU lineup all season long, with a 1.103 OPS, .650 slugging percentage, 13 home runs, seven doubles, and 51 RBIs on the year.

The senior first baseman has hit three grand slams this season and twice hit two home runs in the same game - versus No. 19 Campbell (March 14) and Georgia State (April 2). In fact, Beach hit two home runs in the same inning in the win over No. 19 Campbell. He totaled 13 multiple-hit games and 11 multiple-RBI games, driving in four RBIs or more in a game six different times.

The veteran hit .321 in the middle of the best offensive lineup on the season over 48 games and topped that by hitting .333 with a 1.122 OPS, .634 slugging percentage, eight home runs, and 34 RBIS in 29 conference games. He also posted a .488 on-base percentage and drew 25 walks in conference play, which also ranked in the top 10 in the SBC.

He also proved his worth in the field, where he did not commit an error at first base over 299 chances, making 274 putouts and 25 assists, and was also part of 34 of the Chants’ league-leading 54 double plays on the year.

Payton Eeles - All-Sun Belt Second Team

Also named to the All-Sun Belt second team in his lone season as a Chant was Eeles, earning the nod at second base.

The igniter at the top of the best offense in the SBC and in the top 10 nationally, Eeles leads the Sun Belt in on-base percentage (.507), runs scored (65), and stolen bases (38) while ranking second in batting average (.384) and hits (81) in starting all 54 games for the regular-season champions. His stolen base percentage of .884 (38-for-43) is one of the best in all of the Sun Belt.

In conference play, Eeles ranked in the top 10 in the league in batting average (.363), hits (45), runs (35), on-base percentage (.477), hit-by-pitch (12), and stolen bases (29).

The lead-off hitter has scored a run in 40 of the Chants’ 54 games and hit safely in 42 of the 54 games on the year. Eeles struck out just 29 times compared to 37 walks and 18 hit-by-pitches at the top of the CCU order. He had a season-high 25-game on-base streak midway through the campaign and is tied for the team lead with 26 multiple-hit games on the season.

In the field, he has helped turn 37 of the Chants’ league-leading 54 double plays on the year and is third in the SBC in fielding assists with 134.

Graham Brown - All-Sun Belt Second Team

Joining the right side of the infield in Beach and Eeles on the All-Sun Belt second team was right fielder Brown.

Brown has started all 54 games for the Chants on the season, hitting up and down the lineup for the top offense in the Sun Belt. The senior led the Chants and ranked in the top two in doubles with 22 on the season, three off of CCU’s single-season record. He also ranks in the top 10 in the SBC in runs scored (63) and RBIs (57) overall on the season, one of only three players in the entire league to rank in the top 10 in both categories.

In conference play, Brown led the league in doubles (16) and ranked second in runs scored (39), behind only his teammate Lucky. He also hit .307 with nine home runs and a .646 slugging percentage in conference play.

Defensively, he totaled eight outfield assists on the season, including being part of three double plays.

His highlight of the season was hitting a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning versus App State after throwing out the would-be go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning to keep the score tied.

2023 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Postseason Awards

Player of the Year

Shane Lewis, Troy (RS So., OF – Vicksburg, Miss.)

Pitcher of the Year

Tanner Hall, Southern Miss (Jr., P – Zachary, La.)

Newcomer of the Year

Shane Lewis, Troy (RS So., OF – Vicksburg, Miss.)

Freshman of the Year

Caden Bodine, Coastal Carolina (Fr., C – Haddon Heights, N.J.)

Tony Robichaux Leadership Award

JP Tighe, Georgia Southern (Sr., C/OF – Dalton, Ga.)

Ron Maestri Coach of the Year

Gary Gilmore, Coastal Carolina

All-Sun Belt First Team

P Xander Hamilton, App State (Jr., P – Raleigh, N.C.)

P Tanner Hall, Southern Miss (Jr., P – Zachary, La.)

P Grayson Stewart, Troy (RS So., P – Dothan, Ala.)

RP Teddy Sharkey, Coastal Carolina (Jr., RP – Wall, N.J.)

C Caden Bodine, Coastal Carolina (Fr., C – Haddon Heights, N.J.)

1B Hunter Fitz-Gerald, Old Dominion (Jr., 1B – Margate, Fla.)

2B Jesse Sherrill, Georgia Southern (Sr., 2B – Pensacola, Fla.)

SS Dustin Dickerson, Southern Miss (Jr., SS – Laurel, Miss.)

3B Caleb Bartolero, Troy (Sr., 3B – Woodstock, Ga.)

OF CJ Boyd, App State (So., OF – Lewisville, N.C.)

OF Nick Lucky, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr., OF – Denver, Pa.)

OF Shane Lewis, Troy (RS So., OF – Vicksburg, Miss.)

UT Cameron Jones, Georgia State (Jr., UT – Kathleen, Ga.)

DH Derek Bender, Coastal Carolina (So., DH – Murrells Inlet, S.C.)

All-Sun Belt Second Team

P Ryan Watson, Georgia State (Sr., P – Sugar Hill, Ga.)

P Sam Armstrong, Old Dominion (Jr., P – Wantage, N.J.)

P Levi Wells, Texas State (Jr. P – La Porte, Texas)

RP Noah Manning, Troy (Jr., RP – Minooka, Ill.)

C Julian Brock, Louisiana (Jr., C. – Fulshear, Texas)

1B Zack Beach, Coastal Carolina (Sr., 1B – Mechanicsville, Va.)

2B Payton Eeles, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr., 2B – Acworth, Ga.)

SS Kyle DeBarge, Louisiana (So., SS – Kinder, La.)

3B Danny Lynch, Southern Miss (Sr., 3B – Jupiter, Fla.)

OF Graham Brown, Coastal Carolina (Sr., OF – Middletown, Md.)

OF Fenwick Trimble, James Madison (So., OF – Virginia Beach, Va.)

OF Will Turner, South Alabama (So., OF – Auburn, Ala.)

UT Jack Cone, James Madison (Gr., UT – Fairfax Station, Va.)

DH Max Ryerson, Georgia State (Sr., DH – Conway, S.C.)