GREENSBORO, NC - Florida Southern head baseball coach Lance Niekro has been named the ABCA/Diamond Sports NCAA Division II South Region Coach of the Year as announced today by the American Baseball Coaches Association. Niekro is now eligible for the ABCA/Diamond Sports National Coach of the Year honor which will be announced on Tuesday, July 3.
Niekro led Florida Southern to an NCAA Division II National Third-Place this past season, guiding the Moccasins to a 45-11-1 overall record and a 22-8 mark in the Sunshine State Conference. Following the regular season, the Moccasins won the program's 21st NCAA South Region Tournament title and advanced to the Division II National Tournament in Cary, NC where Florida Southern advanced to the national semifinals.
The NCAA national third-place finish and the 45 wins in 2018 were the best for a Moccasins team since the 2005 squad, coached by current Florida Southern athletic director Pete Meyer, won the national championship with a 51-11 record.
Niekro just completed his sixth season as Florida Southern head coach with a 187-115-1 career record.
Under Niekro, the Moccasins set the school record with 81 home runs in 2017 and nearly matched the total this season with 79 round-trippers, led by Hayden Marze, who broke the FSC record with 22 home runs this season. Florida Southern also set a school record with a .976 fielding percentage. On the mound, Florida Southern pitchers established a new standard with 513 strikeouts this past season after recording 481 punch-outs in 2017.
Two Moccasins players earned top national honors from the Perfect Game organization as Logan Browning was named the recipient of the Josh Willingham Award as the Division II Most Valuable Player and J.T. Hintzen receiving the Brett Tomko Award, named for the former Florida Southern standout, as the Division II Pitcher of the Year.
Hintzen, Browning, and Hayden were each named to various All-America teams in 2018 with all three also earning All-South Region honors.
The Moccasins had two players selected in the Major League Baseball draft in June with Hintzen going to the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round and Browning being selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 24th round.