by Alan Babbitt
From the leadoff hitter to the cleanup hitter, Jordon Fairchild, Trace Slancik, Evan Maday and Mason Opple forged a formidable top of the lineup for a record-setting Hope College baseball team this season.
The four Flying Dutchmen standouts have been recognized as All-MIAA First Team selections for the 2019 season by the league's coaches.
They helped Hope to a team-record 29 wins this spring and qualify for the MIAA Tournament for the eighth consecutive time with a second-place, 19-9 league record.
Fairchild, who bats leadoff, is the first-team second baseman. The senior from Muskegon, Michigan (Oakridge HS) hit a league-high eight home runs during MIAA games that were twice as many as anyone else in the league. Fairchild beat regular-season champion Adrian with a walk-off homer in the 10th inning of a game at Hope.
In MIAA play, Fairchild finished with a .327 batting average. He was third in the league with 35 runs scored.
"Jordon has been good his whole career, but to have those type of power numbers is a testament to him and Dan Margritz leading our strength and conditioning program," head coach Stu Fritz said. "Jordon has a really good year offensively and that didn't go unnoticed. He was solid defensively after making the move from shortstop. He was one of our leaders."
Slancik, who bats second, is the first-team catcher. The junior from Scotts, Michigan (Vicksburg) hit .377 during MIAA play while starting all 28 MIAA games.
Slancik totaled 28 runs scored and 28 runs batted in against MIAA opponents.
"He caught 10 games in seven days for us," Fritz said. "The fact that he was able to stay as sharp offensively as he did is a testament to how hard he worked in the weight room. He really put up good offensively numbers. Defensively, he is as good as we've had. It's great seeing him get the fruits of his labor. He works hard as his craft."
Maday, who bats third, is one of three first-team outfielders. The sophomore centerfield from Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Kentwood) led the MIAA with 19 stolen bases during league games.
Maday finished with a .349 batting average against MIAA opponents.
"Evan was first team as a freshman. He's a special player," Fritz said. "He's incredibly athletic and handles every aspect of the game. He did really well hitting in the three hole for us after batting leadoff last season."
Opple, who hit cleanup, is a first-team outfielder. The junior right fielder from Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) topped the MIAA with 35 runs batted in during league games.
Twenty-two of his 42 hits against MIAA pitchers went for extra bases, including four home runs and two triples.
"Mason is one of the best athletes I've coached. He can do it all," Fritz said. "He can hit for power. He can hit for average. He brings a competitive attitude to the park every day that's infectious."