AUSTIN, Texas — After sweeping all three of the All-Region accolades, Lincoln Memorial University senior outfielder Josh Coker (Murphy, N.C.) has been tabbed with NCBWA All-America third team honors, officials with the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association announced on Friday.
The only South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year in program history, Josh Coker is the first Railsplitter to earn NCBWA All-America distinctions since Andre Rodriguez was an honorable mention selection in 2012. Like Rodriguez, Coker also swept the All-Southeast Region awards, nabbing first team honors from the NCBWA and second team laurels from Daktronics and the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).
Coker authored one of the most prolific individual offensive seasons in recent memory for the Railsplitters, as he posted a gaudy .357/.708/.433 batting split, ranking eighth in the nation in with his .708 slugging percentage. Coker blasted 15 doubles and 13 home runs, finishing 10th in D-II in total homers and fifth in home runs per contest with 0.30. All told, Coker collected 45 RBI, ranking 44th in the nation in RBI per contest, while amassing 109 total bases.
On the wings of Coker’s bat, the Railsplitters established themselves as one of the most potent offensive attacks in the Southeast Region. Lincoln Memorial led the South Atlantic Conference and ranked 17th nationally in slugging percentage, while the Railsplitters also finished first in the league and 38th in the nation in batting average. Finally, the Railsplitters ranked 10th in D-II in homers per game, 20th in total home runs and 20th in scoring with an average of 7.3 runs per game.
After absorbing a 3-for-15 start to his senior season, Coker went on an absolute tear from February 8 until March 15, connecting on a hit in 18 of his 19 games over that span with nine multiple hit outings. He lifted his average from a measly .200 to .387, where it hovered for most of the season. Coker crested the peak of that offensive upswing on March 12 as he was awarded with NCBWA National Hitter of the Week status. In five games from March 5-8, Coker batted 7-for-15 with 12 RBI, a double and four home runs. With two homers and five RBI in a 14-13 win over Catawba on March 7, Coker helped snap the Railsplitters’ 12-game losing streak to the Indians.
Coker capped the 2014 campaign with 12 multiple RBI contests and 14 multiple hit outings, while his 14-game hitting streak during that flourish was the longest by a Railsplitter since Nick Langley ripped off a 15-game streak in 2010. Coker was even better than his .357 batting average in a variety of situations as he batted .361 (30-for-83) with runners on, .667 (6-for-9) with the bases loaded and .414 (24-for-58) with runners in scoring position. Coker reached base safely in all but five of the 44 games he started this season.
A year removed from the program’s first Food Lion SAC Championship title, the Railsplitters matched the program record for South Atlantic Conference wins and best league finish, going 16-8 in conference play to nab third place. The Railsplitters opened their title defense by cruising to a 7-2 triumph over Newberry, but consecutive losses to Wingate and Catawba ended LMU’s hopes for a repeat. Lincoln Memorial wrapped up the 2014 season with a 27-17-1 mark.