CARMEL, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) in partnership with its 10 member institutions is working to honor those spring sport senior student athletes whose seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hanover College has an outstanding group of seniors who the Panthers and the HCAC would like to recognize.
The senior members of the Panther baseball team include Spencer Coop, Jay Lorenz, Zach Chapman, Brayden Imel, Hayden McIlwain, and Mark Walkenhorst. As a group, they have amassed 48 wins over the course of their career, for a winning percentage of over 40 percent. During their four years, the Hanover Panthers combined for 1,162 hits with a team .286 batting average.
Senior Spencer Coop (Lexington, Ky.) has played a major role in the team's success starting 115 games in a Panther uniform. The middle infielder recorded a .293 career batting average including 51 RBI on 144 hits. He tallied 17 extra base hits (13 doubles and four triples), 87 runs and 165 total bases. He also was a nightmare on the base paths as he recorded 27 stolen bases including a career-best 12 during the 2019 campaign.
The 2019 season also saw Coop chart an impressive 10 game hit streak which included a career-high six hit outburst in the team's contest with Wabash. He went on to post a .336 batting average with 49 combined hits including eight doubles and three triples.
"Spencer has been a leader for us both on and off the field," praised head coach Grant Bellak. "Since the day I arrived on campus Spencer has not only anchored our middle infield, but also anchored our team's focus on the future direction of this program."
Brayden Imel (Barbourville, Ky.) exemplified what being a member of the Hanover baseball team truly meant as he demonstrated excellence both on the field and in the Hanover College campus community. The senior appeared in 34 career games with 70 plate appearances. He tallied five runs on six hits with a double and a homerun.
The 2020 campaign was shaping up to be his best yet as the senior recorded 12 starts under head coach Grant Bellak. He tallied five RBI including one double and a homerun that came in the team's 10-2 victory over Northern Vermont-Lyndon.
"Brayden is the example of what being a Hanover Baseball player truly means," added Bellak. "Hard working, competitive, great teammate, high-achieving and a leader on campus."
Mark Walkenhorst (Fort Thomas, Ky.) played a key role in the middle of the Panther lineup. The senior appeared in 64 games with 181 at-bats including 35 runs on 57 hits. He combined for a .315 batting average with 12 doubles, seven homeruns and 31 RBI.
The HCAC All-Conference selection dominated the 2019 campaign as he recorded 31 starts for a .376 batting average with 103 at-bats. He charted 39 hits and 25 runs with 10 doubles, six homeruns and 21 RBI. The Fort Thomas, Ky. native posted five games with three or more hits including two four hit outbursts. He also tallied a career-high six RBI with a perfect 3-for-3 mark at the dish in the team's contest with Sewanee.
The senior carried the momentum into the 2020 season where he made 45 trips to the plate recording nine runs on 12 hits and seven RBI.
"So many of our young guys in this program look up to Mark," praised Bellak. "Mark set an example of what hard work and trust can do for a player. He was a staple in the middle of our lineup, and we will miss his presence on the field and in the dugout."
The impact senior Jay Lorenz (New Albany, Ind.) left on the Hanover Baseball program went much further than the diamond.
"Jay was a key guy for taking young players under his wing, and expressing what this program was truly about," added Bellak. "He bought in from day one and became one of the key players we could trust to articulate the vision of this program. He will be one of the guys that influences this program for years to come."
The senior appeared in 22 games for the Panthers with 42 at-bats and six hits, including three RBI. The 2020 season was arguably his best season to-date as he appeared in six games with two RBI and a .273 slugging percentage.
Senior Zach Chapman (Loveland, Ohio) played a key role in the Hanover pitching rotation making 33 career trips to the mound with 84.2 innings of work. He made seven career starts with two saves and 56 strikeouts. He concluded his career with a 4.15 ERA averaging 5.95 strikeouts per game.
Chapman earned his way into the Panther pitching rotation becoming a key component in 2020. The senior made three starts with 11 strikeouts through 16 innings of work. He charted a 3.38 ERA including tying a career-best five strikeouts in the team's season opener with Centre.
"Zach is the definition of a competitor. Whether he was taking the ball on the mound, prepping in the weight room or developing as a student-athlete, he constantly competes," stated head coach Bellak. "This competitive fire is the reason why Zach led our rotation this year, and excites me to see what his future holds."
Senior Hayden McIlwain (New Castle, Ind.) became an important part of the Panther starting rotation in 2020 making two starts with 11.1 complete innings of work. He tallied six strikeouts with a 2.57 ERA with his best outing coming in the team's 4-3 victory over Eureka where he tallied a career-high three strikeouts.
McIlwain recorded 18.1 career innings in a Hanover uniform with six appearances and 11 total strikeouts. He averaged 5.40 strikeouts per contest with a 3.93 ERA while also being named a member of the HCAC Tom Bohlsen Spring Academic list.
"The joy that Hayden brought to the ballpark every day is something that will be missed within our program," praised Bellak. "No matter what was going on, whether it be on or off the field, Hayden was the guy we could rely on to bring us the joy of competition. He has the unique skill of bring guys together as a great leader on the mound, in the dugout and in the bullpen."