Simmons is second men's lacrosse player selected Player-of-the-Year
DJ Simmons (below)
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Senior midfielder DJ Simmons (Mystic) has been named New England Division III Player-of-the-Year by the Eastern College Athletic Conference as one of six Eastern Connecticut State University athletes honored for their achievements in spring sports.
Simmons was joined on the ten-player men's lacrosse all-star team by senior attack Matthew Savage (Southington) and senior defenseman Steve Lane (Groton). In baseball, senior utility player Shawn Gilblair (Windham) and junior third baseman Melvin Castillo (Danbury) were named to the all-star team for the third straight season; in softball freshman right-handed pitcher Molly Rathbun (Hebron) represented Eastern.
All six Eastern players were named to the first team. The men's lacrosse all-star team was comprised of only one team.
The ECAC all-star honor was the first in the careers of Simmons, Savage, Lane and Rathbun. Last month, Simmons and Lane (honorable mention), Gilblair (first team), Castillo (third team) and Rathbun (second team) were all named to their respective sports' All-America teams. Gilblair also shared the award as ABCA Division III national Player-of-the-Year and was selected New England Player-of-the-Year by the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA).
Each of Eastern's ECAC all-stars were named first-team All-Little East Conference this spring Simmons was selected LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Year and Lane LEC Defensive Player-of-the-Year in men's lacrosse. Rathbun was the LEC softball Rookie-of-the-Year. As a first-team NEIBA baseball selection, Gilblair will compete in the New England College All-Star Game Thursday at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, MA. Simmons, Lane and Savage all competed in the New England Senior All-Star Game this past Sunday at Tufts University.
Gilblair was named to the ECAC all-star first team as a sophomore in 2007 as a left-handed pitcher, when he was additionally recognized as the ECAC Pitcher-of-the-Year. Last year, he was a second-team choice at utility. Castillo was the ECAC all-star first-team shortstop as a freshman in 2007 and a second-team pick at shortstop last year.
Simmons becomes the men's lacrosse program's second ECAC Player-of-the-Year, following senior attack Jeff Reinhart in 2001.
This year, Simmons recorded career highs with 49 goals and 63 points and added 14 assists. He ranked second in the conference in goals and points behind Savage and shared the conference lead with 11 extra-man goals. Seven of his goals this year were game-winners, four coming in the team's final four victories. One of those game-winners came in the LEC playoff title win over Keene State and another came 82 seconds into overtime against Merchant Marine four days later. Simmons leaves the program ranked first all-time in appearances (70), fourth in goals (127) and ninth in points (168).
Savage set a program season record this year with 53 goals and also established personal career-highs with 77 points and 24 assists. Savage, who set a program record by scoring at least one goal in 22 consecutive games, was named MVP of the conference tournament with nine goals and an assist in two victories. His career total of 130 goals ranks second all-time and his point total of 186 rates seventh.
Eastern equaled the program record for wins en route to a final 15-4 record in 2009 and a berth in the program's sixth NCAA Division III tournament in nine years, with its nine-game winning streak exceeded only three times in program history. The Warriors earned an automatic berth in the tournament this past spring after winning their sixth conference playoff title in nine years, then posted their first-ever NCAA tournament win with a 10-9 overtime decision at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. They were ranked seventh in the final New England poll, and also received votes in the final regular-season USILA Division III national rankings.
Giblair started all 45 games in which he appeared this year and batted over .400 (.402) for the second straight season this year. He totaled career-highs in hits (7), doubles (21/one shy of the season record), total bases (118), RBI (68), and runs (51) and also hit nine home runs. As a
left-handed pitcher, he was 8-1 with a 2.71 ERA which topped all starting pitchers. He fanned 99 batters and walked only 12, opponents hitting .212 against him.
After being named MVP of the Little East Conference tournament for the third time in his career, Gilblair was named to the NCAA New England Regional all-tournament team in mid-May. In that tournament, he was 9-for-24 (.375) with three doubles, a home run and a team-leading seven RBI, handled 32 chances at first base without an error, and pitched a complete-game five-hitter against conference rival University of Southern Maine in the second round.
Gilblair leaves the program as the only player ever with as many as 20 pitching wins, 20 home runs, and 200 hits and is among the all-time offensive and pitching leaders in most every category. In his career, he collected 236 hits with a .373 batting average, and 29 home runs. He is ranked second all-time (one behind the leader) with 194 RBI and fourth in total bases (370). His 28 pitching wins in 35 decisions rank him in a tie for fifth all-time, and he also ranks fourth in strikeouts (281) and seventh in ERA (2.31).
In his first season at third base, Castillo batted a career-high .388 and led the Warriors with 138 total bases - two more than his freshman total - and matched his freshman total of 14 home runs. He drove in a career-high 60 runs and equaled his career high by scoring 60. Castillo carried a 15-game hitting streak through the first four games of the regional tournament. Castillo broke the program's career record with his 39th career home run in the regional championship round against Trinity College.
Ranked seventh nationally in the final Division III poll, Eastern won 39 and lost eight this season, capturing the LEC tournament title for the fifth time in the last seven years and reaching the championship round of the New England regional for the 22nd straight time in which it has participated. The Warriors were ranked No. 1 in Division III after opening the season with 13 straight wins and brought a 14-game winning streak into regional play.
Rathbun was 16-7 with three saves and a 0.79 ERA and 206 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings this year for Eastern, which finished 26-13 and qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament as an at-large selection for the second straight year. Her pitching wins equal the tenth-most in a season in program history and equal the freshman record, initially set by Christia Mohan in 1987. Rathbun became only the second pitcher in program history with as many as 200 strikeouts in a season, following Kim Durocher (245) in 1986. After only one season, Rathbun is already ranked fifth all-time in career strikeouts and tied for fifth in saves.
Rathbun led the conference this past year in strikeouts, lowest opponent batting average (.151), was tied for first in wins, was second in appearances (29), ERA, and innings, tied for second in saves, and fourth in starts (21).
Rathbun ranked fifth nationally in Division III in ERA and sixth in least hits allowed per seven innings (3.6) and sixth in New England in strikeouts per game (9.1)