AMHERST, Mass. – Amherst College baseball standouts Mike Samela '12, Kevin Heller '12 and Bob Cook '13 were honored today when the NESCAC and NEIBA released their postseason awards.
Cook was named the NESCAC Player of the Year in addition to joining Heller and Samela on the All-Conference First Team, with Samela also earning Defensive Player of the Year honors. Samela and Cook were named to the NEIBA Division III All-New England ranks, with Samela landing on the Second Team and Cook earning a Third Team selection.
This is the second consecutive year a Lord Jeff has earned the NESCAC's top honor in baseball, as Cook joins Samela as the program's only Player of the Year recipients. Cook earned a spot on the Second Team as a rookie in 2010, but he was promoted to the First Team as one of the league's top hitters and pitchers.
Cook posted a 5-0 record and was among the conference leaders in ERA (2.51), holding opponents to a .244 batting average with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.71 (33K, 7BB). He closed the year with three consecutive quality starts, including a dominant performance against Middlebury in which he struck out five, walked none and surrendered only one run in seven innings.
Equally effective at the plate, Cook tied for the team lead in batting average (.380) and ranked among Amherst's leaders in runs (21), walks (17), slugging (.481) and on-base percentage (.505). When not on the mound, Cook was stationed at first base and recorded a .987 fielding percentage on 230 chances, helping turn 14 double plays.
Samela is only the fifth baseball player in NESCAC history to earn three consecutive All-Conference First Team selections. His reputation as one of the best catchers in New England stood up in 2012, as he committed only one error in 143 chances (.993) and caught seven base runners stealing. Samela also saw significant time in the outfield this year, notably throwing out the potential tying run in the seventh inning during a win over Bates.
Hitting at least .380 for the third consecutive year, Samela finished his senior season as the team leader in batting average (.380), slugging (.562), RBIs (33), runs (30), hits (46) and triples (3). He hit safely in 28 of 33 games, opening the year with a 13-game hitting streak (.440) and batting .421 in his final 16 outings. Samela recorded 12 multi-hit games, notching a season-high five against Southern Maine and four against Springfield.
Joining Samela and Brendan Powers '09 as the only three-time All-NESCAC selections in program history, Heller landed on the First Team for the second time in his career. Since being selected as the conference's Rookie of the Year in 2009, Heller has established himself as one of the best players to have ever put on an Amherst uniform. This weekend he will graduate as the program's all-time leader in hits (172), runs (136), RBIs (126) and total bases (275), also sharing the career home run record (18).
In 2012 Heller led Amherst in doubles (13) and was among the team's leaders in batting (.374), slugging (.523), on-base percentage (.474), runs scored (28) and RBIs (26). He enjoyed a 12-game hitting streak in April and played a major role during a dominant 12-1 stretch for the Lord Jeffs, as he led the team in hitting (.422), slugging (.578), runs (17) and on-base percentage (.509) from Mar. 30 to Apr. 20. Heller was also 41-for-45 on stolen base attempts during his four years and joins Dave Powers '05 as the program's only players to record four consecutive 40-hit seasons.
A complete list of this year's All-NESCAC selections can be found on the conference's website.