05/18/07 — Daktronics All-South Region team

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Daktronics All-South Region team

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 18, 2007 2:41 PM

KINSTON -- Erik Lovett's return to the Mount Olive College baseball team hasn't gone unnoticed this season.

Then again, Lovett has made plenty of noise in batter's box.

The former Southern Wayne graduate added another postseason award to his constantly-growing resume on Thursday when he was named the Daktronics South Atlantic Region player of the year.

An ACL injury sidelined Lovett last season, but the junior first baseman returned with a vengeance in 2007. He slugged a single-season, school-record 21 home runs, drove in 78 runs and posted a phenomenal .859 slugging percentage.

Lovett produced nearly one-fourth of Mount Olive's record-setting 87 dingers this spring.

"It's really unbelievable," said MOC head coach Carl Lancaster of Lovett's performance.

Joining Lovett on the Daktronics South Atlantic first team were third baseman Stephen Nordan, shortstop David Cooper, utility player Dustin Richardson, outfielder Scott Houin and starting pitcher Tom Layne.

MOC hurler Judson Smith earned second-team recognition.

"I thought it was outstanding the way it turned out, although if they had voted after tonight's game, we probably wouldn't have done quite as well," said Lancaster after a 6-1 victory over Virginia State. "To get that many kids on the ballot and several first team (selections) is a tribute to their work. We've got good players and this game was not indicative at all of the talent we've got on the field.

"I hope they can come out tomorrow and play like the players they are."

Lovett collected his 20th double of the season and increased his RBI total to 80 in a 2-for-4, two-RBI effort against VSU. He grounded out once and struck out once.

"Lovett has got to understand this weekend he's probably not going to hit a home run because nobody is going to let Lovett beat them," said Lancaster. "They're not going to give him anything on the inner half (of the plate) he can turn on, especially if it's up (in the zone).

"The thing is, (Josh) Carter was pretty good tonight. That's the key to us with Lovett being selective and not trying to do too much ahead of him (in the lineup)."

Carter, a preseason All-American candidate, doubled and singled in three plate appearances.

Nordan is one of four Trojans to start all 57 games this season. He led the team in hits (92), doubles (27) and was second behind Lovett in RBI with 71. Cooper and Richardson combined for 98 RBI heading into this weekend's regional, while Houin is third on the team with 11 home runs.

Layne and Smith each recorded eight mound wins, and combined for five complete games. Layne fashioned an ERA of 3.13 in 74-plus innings, while Smith compiled a 3.54 ERA in a team-leading 76.1 innings.