TUSCON, Ariz. — A trio of Missouri State freshmen picked up national recognition Wednesday, as Collegiate Baseball tabbed pitcher Dylan Coleman, shortstop Jeremy Eierman, and outfielder Hunter Steinmetz for its 2016 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America squad, marking the fifth time in six seasons at least one Bear has been selected for the publication's top rookie squad.
Coleman, a right-hander who entrenched himself in the Bears’ weekend rotation as a rookie, recorded a 6-4 mound mark to go along with 82 strikeouts in 72.1 innings over 15 total apperances this spring. The Potosi, Mo. product ranked fifth overall in the Valley in strikeouts with the third-best freshman total in school history. His six wins also rated among the top rookie totals for a Missouri State pitcher, matching the freshman marks of four previous Bears, including former All-Americans Tim Clubb (2007) and Jarrod Mays (1994).
After becoming the first MSU freshman to log an opening-weekend start since 1996, Coleman won four of his first five decisions as a Bear, including a 9-1 win over Central Michigan in which he fanned a club season-high 11 hitters.
A freshman shortstop from Warsaw, Mo., Eierman burst onto the scene with a memorable rookie year that included nine homers and 48 RBIs as a key cog in the Bears’ potent offense. Eierman made all 59 starts at shortstop for MSU, finishing the year with a .296 batting average, while slugging .504 and tallying 68 hits, with the latter two figures ranking third overall on the squad. In Valley play, he registered one of the top all-around seasons in the league, leading all players in RBIs (25), while ranking second in homers (5) and third in total bases (44) — all three of which led the Bears.
Eierman’s season included several statistical totals that ranked among the top rookie marks in the history of the MSU program. His nine homers represented the third-best freshman total in school history and the most by a Bear rookie since 1999, while his RBI (fifth), runs scored (ninth) and hits (10th) totals all ranked in the top 10 for Missouri State freshman.
One of just three Bears to make all 59 starts this spring, Steinmetz logged a .317 batting mark and an MVC-best 14 stolen bases, while ranking among the league’s top 10 individuals in 11 different offensive categories overall. Most notably, the Springfield, Mo., native finished second in the circuit in runs scored (57) and triples (7) and third in hits (78). Steinmetz, who batted leadoff for the Bears in every contest as a rookie, broke MSU’s freshman records for steals and triples and totaled 22 multi-hit games to rank second on the squad.
Steinmetz flourished in the field as well, committing just two defensive miscues in 129 total chances for a .984 fielding percentage, while registering several memorable catches in center field. His diving grab against Kansas on April 6 netted a spot in ESPN Sports Center’s Top 10 plays of the day, before a pair of highlight-reel catches in the late innings of MSU’s MVC Tournament title game vs. Dallas Baptist kept the Bears’ postseason hopes alive.
With three selections to this year’s Louisville Slugger squad, 36 Bears have garnered All-America recognition over the 53-year history of the Missouri State program. In the last five years alone, 10 different MSU standouts have picked up All-American honors, while a total of 16 Bears have earned freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball since 1989.
Missouri State concluded its 2016 season as the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament runner-up with an overall record of 38-21, marking the 28th time in 34 seasons under head coach Keith Guttin the Bears have reached the 30-win mark.