Tschida, Ellis recognized by the Summit
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For the second consecutive week, the Player of the Week in the Summit League belongs to a Leatherneck. Senior Chris Tschida earned the award for batting .500 in four games over the week of April 3 and junior Mitch Ellis followed suite this past week with nine hits against Omaha.
“Their seasons started slow but they’ve heated up,” said Western Illinois head baseball coach Ryan Brownlee on his award winners. “Obviously we’re all very happy for both of them and they will help us out a lot throughout the second half of the season if they continue to swing the bats like that.”
Tshida also earned the honor once before in his career, for the week of March 23, 2015, and was also named the conference’s Freshman of the Year by College Sports Madness in 2014. The senior got off to a tough start in 2017 before finally breaking out for the Leathernecks.
In a midweek contest against Robert Morris to start his hot streak, Tschida logged two doubles and launched his first career grand slam in a 12-1 rout. Western then traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to take on the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, the Summit’s top team.
Tschida and the Leathernecks fought hard with the Golden Eagles and lost the rubber match 1-0. Western did hand Oral Roberts their first Summit loss of the season, a 5-2 decision fueled by three Tshida hits. All in all, the senior collected five hits by the end of the series and earned Player of the Week honors. In just four games, he raised his batting average from .238 to .292. Oral Roberts is still yet to lose a conference game outside of Western.
Also off to a rough start in the new season was transfer student from Diamond Creek, Australia, Mitch Ellis. Ellis owned a batting average of just .213 entering Friday’s series opener at Omaha. The junior broke out in a big way against the Mavericks in all three contests.
“This award means a lot,” Mitch Ellis said. “I got off to a slow start so it’s coming at a great time. It’s nice to see all of the hard work pay off.”
Ellis was a big reason Western was able to score a total of 27 runs on the weekend. In Game 1, he doubled his career- high in hits with four and logged his first triple. He also brought home a run and scored three times. The Leathernecks dropped Game 2 4-2 but Ellis logged three more hits and was responsible for one of the two runs batted it on the afternoon.
Ellis rounded out his weekend with a two-hit performance in the series finale. One of his singles brought home a run and Western was just able to edge out Omaha 11-10 in the rubber match. In those three games, Ellis went 9-for-13 against the Mavericks and became the second straight Leatherneck to receive the award. Ellis has raised his batting average to .280 overall and is hitting .347 over his last 15 games.
“I think winning this award in consecutive weeks says a lot about our offense and team as a whole,” Ellis said. “It’s a very talented group, and we’re starting to do a lot of things right. Our pitching staff really carried us for a while, so it’s nice to make a difference for the team.”
Over the two-week span, the Leathernecks went 4-4 and 3-3 against conference opponents Oral Roberts and Omaha. Since the beginning of Summit League play on March 17, Western has gone 7-6 after starting the season 2-14 thanks to brutal non-conference competition.
Overall, the Leathernecks stand tied for third place in the Summit League at 6-6 with the North Dakota State Bison. Teams 2-4 out of 6 are all separated by just two games. Oral Roberts leads with a record of 11-1 and Fort Wayne is last at 1-11.
Western will resume Summit League play at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium in Macomb against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (14-13, 7-5) on Friday at 3 p.m. Games 2 and 3 of the series will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Twitter: @campbellatkins4