Six Braves score all-state honors


GREENSBORO – The bag of postseason awards continued to swell for the 11th-ranked University of North Carolina at Pembroke baseball team as six players were decorated with all-state honors by the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association.

Sophomore Alex Britt joined seniors Drew Cole, Collins Cuthrell, Zade Denton, Dalton Knight and Ben Schmucker on the squad which, annually, honors the top student-athletes from colleges and universities at all levels in the state of North Carolina. The announcement marked the eighth straight year that UNCP has been represented on the squad, and the third-straight year that the school has had five or more players earn the honor.

Twelve different schools were represented on the 26-man team. UNCP led the way with six selections, while Catawba boasted five players on the squad. Mount Olive and Wingate each sent three players to the distinguished listing.

A semifinalist for the Brett Tomko Award, which is given annually to the top pitcher in NCAA Division II baseball, Britt recorded five wins this season despite not making a start on the mound. The Lumberton product finished the regular season with a 5-3 record, a 2.12 ERA and seven saves over a team-best 26 appearances and 51 innings of work. He also struck out 57 batters and walked 11 while allowing opponents to hit at a .209 clip. Britt earned all-Peach Belt Conference accolades in May.

A three-year starter in centerfield for the Braves, Cole reached base safely in 50 of UNCP’s 51 contests this season while putting together a .375 batting average with 19 extra-base hits (6 HR), 41 RBI and 63 runs scored. The Peachland native ranked among the league’s top 5 in four categories, including hits (3rd) and stolen bases (4th), and had a pair of double-digit hitting streaks to his credit, including a 20-game streak from early March to early April. A two-time all-conference selection, Cole registered 24 multiple-hit and 11 multiple-RBI outings and also scored two or more runs in 15 contests. He was an all-region selection by the NCBWA as well.

An All-American selection from three different organizations, Cuthrell became the first player in program history to rake in PBC Player of the Year designation after leading the league in 10 statistical categories, including home runs (25), RBI (75) and runs scored (75), while also finishing second among conference leaders in batting average (.443). A three-time PBC Player of the Week and two-time region hitter of the week selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), Cuthrell led the team with 28 multiple-hit games and 20 multiple-RBI outings. The Rocky Mount product was also a semifinalist for the Tino Martinez Award, given annually to the top hitter in NCAA Division II baseball.

Denton started in all 51 games for the Braves this season and earned NCBWA All-America honors after hitting .363 (82-for-226) with 24 extra-base hits (10 HR), 65 RBI and 59 runs scored. A first team all-PBC selection as well, Denton turned in 26 multiple-hit games and 19 multiple-RBI outings in 2015 and boasted a pair of hitting streaks that spanned 20 or more games. The Dallas native ranked among league leaders in four categories, including RBI (2nd), hits (5th), runs scored (9th) and home runs (T-8th). Earlier this month, he became the first player in program history to earn both All-America and Capital One Academic All-America accolades.

A product of Morehead City, Knight posted a .372 batting average with 19 extra-base hits (5 HR), 36 RBI and 72 runs scored, while also tallying 27 multi-hit and eight multiple-RBI outings. A 2014 Daktronics all-Region pick, Knight finished his collegiate career on a 15-game hitting streak and crossed the plate multiple times in 23 contests. He also boasted a .397 batting average against league competition in 2015.

Schmucker, who earned second team all-conference and NCBWA all-region recognition this season as well, was one of five players to start all 51 games for UNCP and responded by hitting .348 with 29 extra-base hits (6 HR), 63 RBI and 57 runs scored. The Greensboro native ranked among the league’s top 10 in six categories, including a tie for second in doubles and a fifth-place standing in RBI. A three-year starter in right field, Schmucker produced 22 multiple-hit games and 18 multiple-RBI games in 2015 and scored multiple runs in 15 outings.