MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Five players from Mount Olive’s NCAA Division II Baseball National Championship team were selected in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, which concluded Friday. Pitchers Casey Hodges, Ryan Schlecht and Michael Williams, along with first baseman Erik Lovett and shortstop David Cooper were drafted.
Hodges was selected in the 23rd round by the Atlanta Braves, Schlecht in the 34th round by the Texas Rangers and Lovett in the 39th round by the New York Yankees. Williams and Cooper were both picked in the 44th round, Williams by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cooper by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Hodges, a third team All-American from Rocky Mount, Va., was the winning pitcher in last Saturday’s NCAA Division II Baseball National Championship Game and earned All-Tournament honors at the National Finals. Hodges posted a 10-1 record in 2008 with a 2.53 earned run average. The right-hander recorded 87 strikeouts in 89 innings. In his two years at Mount Olive, Hodges was 17-2 with a 2.35 ERA. Hodges father, Ron Hodges, was a catcher for the New York Mets from 1973-84.
Schlecht, a first team All-American from Scottsdale, Ariz., tied for first in the nation in wins with a 13-0 mark. The 2008 Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Year, Schlecht had 14 starts in 17 appearances, but came out of the bullpen in the championship games of the National Finals and the South Atlantic Regional. He earned a save at the regional and retired the side in order on seven pitches in the ninth inning in the national championship game. A right-hander, Schlecht finished the season with a 2.94 ERA.
Lovett, a two-time all-region and all-conference selection from Goldsboro, N.C., batted .371 with 18 home runs, 28 doubles and 77 runs batted in. A first team All-American and the Daktronics Division II National Player of the Year during his junior year, Lovett capped his senior year with four home runs in the NCAA Tournament. He belted three home runs in the South Atlantic Regional and his fourth-inning three-run homer in the second round of the National Finals against Ashland put the Trojans ahead to stay. Lovett hit a school record 40 career home runs.
Williams, a left-hander from Myrtle Beach, S.C., posted an 8-2 record with a 4.10 ERA. Williams pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in Mount Olive’s 5-3 semifinal win over Central Missouri in the national finals, entering the game with one out in the eighth and two runners on base. He had 14 appearances, including 12 starts. Williams recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts in six innings against Coker.
Cooper, a three-time all-region and all-conference selection from Edmonton, Alberta, was the Trojans’ leadoff batter in each of his three years at Mount Olive. Cooper compiled a career batting average of .385, including a .406 batting average in his junior year. He finished his career with 102 stolen bases and set all career, single-season and single-game school records for stolen bases and triples. Cooper was named to the All-Tournament Teams at both the 2008 NCAA II National Finals and South Atlantic Regional.
The five players drafted mark the most selections ever in one year for Mount Olive. The Trojans posted a 58-6 record in 2008 and captured the first national championship in school history with a 6-2 victory over Ouachita Baptist this past Saturday.