It’s May 31st so before the month is out and we close out the 2016 season, I want to recognize the Senior Class of 2016. This class has quite a lot to to be proud.
The Class of 2016 went 145-74-1 for a .661 winning percentage. They also boasted a 64-30 record against Big Ten teams. According to FightingIllini.com, this is the winningest group since the 1960-1963 class who had a .695 winning percentage.
Of course, it probably goes without saying, that these guys all participated in the most successful season in Illinois baseball’s history in 2015. That included a 27 game win streak, an incredulous 50-10-1 record and a chance to host both the Regional and Super Regional.
The 2016 team was a young team but we are going to say farewell to few valuable players. Here they are are.
Nick has been Coach Hartleb’s go-to guy out of the pen the last few years when the game is on the line. During Illinois’ record-breaking 2015 season, he had a fantastic year. He went 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 19 strikeouts and only three walks. He didn’t let Vanderbilt get to him during the Super Regional mowing them down for 1 2/3 innings.
He was rewarded by getting drafted by the Mets in 2015 but chose to finish out his last year in the College of Business. He did pretty well on the mound too. He earned 11 saves (3rd in team history) in 24 appearances with a 3.73.
For the past few years, Jason was the heart and soul of this team. With solid defense, clutch offense and important presence in the dugout, he was the face of Illinois baseball.
Jason’s 2015 season was pretty phenomenal especially during certain weeks. Within a period of eight days, he drove in 12 runs including a grand slam against Eastern Illinois.
After an All-Big Ten First team selection in 2015, Jason was drafted in the 17th round by the Dodgers. He chose to stay at the University of Illinois to finish out his senior year as an industrial engineering major. Illinois baseball were happy about that as Jason led the team in hitting (.312), on-base percentage (.402), and rbis (29) in 2016. Goldie was rewarded with the All-Big Ten Third team honor.
Two years ago, I was sitting in the visitors’ section during a game and a few opposing fans were snickering about Mike’s diminutive frame while he was up to bat. I bit my tongue but I wanted to tell them that Mike was currently leading the Big Ten in walks and OBP.
Unfortunately, Mike was red-shirted in 2015 due to injury. He got his chance to play in 2016 and he certainly made the most of it. This time, he wasn’t content with just taking a walk though. Mike contributed a 15-game hit streak during the month of April. On top of that, he extended his on-base streak to 25 games. He ended the season with a .276 batting average and a .392 OBP, third on the team.
Like Goldstein, Mamlic has earned his undergraduate degree in engineering, civil engineering to be specific. Not only that, he plans to receive his master’s by August of this year.
Mamlic really came out of nowhere this season. A walk-on his freshman year, he didn’t get much time on the mound till 2016. Then he was thrust into the starting role like his fellow Illinois club member, Doug Hayes. With his 5-7 record, Andrew should have won more games with his very respectable 3.70 ERA. He also only allowed 18 walks in 73 innings.
Andrew pitched key games against Missouri (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and Michigan (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER).
What a senior year for Charlie Naso!
He led all pitchers with a 2.25 ERA. It seems so long ago but in 2014, he showed greatness as a sophomore when he didn’t allow a run all year in 11 appearances. Charlie only appeared in six games in 2015 but he was ready for action this year. Charlie had a 2-0 record in 22 appearances and 28 innings to go along with his team leading ERA.
Word has it that Charlie is going into broadcast journalism so we probably haven’t heard the the last of him yet.
When a call to the pen for J.D. Nielsen was made, I always appreciated his cool walk-on music. His tall frame and unorthodox sidearm pitching delivery was fun to watch when he was on the mound as long as you weren’t the batter.
Coach Hartleb began to rely more and more on J.D. as the 2015 season passed. By the end of the season, he had a 2.92 ERA and was considered a valuable asset when games were close.
J.D. continued his success in 2016 with a 5-1 record and 34 strikeouts in 30 innings. He ended his time at Illinois with a third-best 79 appearances. J.D. was honored with a Big Ten Sportsman Award by Illinois.
Good luck and thank you to each of the Senior Class of 2016!