May 7, 2003
Bethlehem, PA - Two Lehigh players were honored by Patriot League coaches for their outstanding seasons at the plate and in the field. Junior third baseman Jesse Novalis has been named the Patriot League Player of the Year. Novalis, a first team selection, was one of two Mountain Hawks to be named to the All-League teams, which are voted on by the Patriot League coaches. Junior shortstop Eric Hoffman has also been recognized for his outstanding play in 2003. Hoffman was named to the All-Patriot League Second Team.
Jesse Novalis earns Player of the Year and All-Patriot League first team honors for the first time after leading the league in a number of offensive categories. To this point, Novalis is hitting .331 with nine home runs and 34 runs driven in. He currently leads the league in several statistical categories, including home runs, RBIs, total bases, slugging percentage, and walks. He has hit more home runs at Lehigh than anyone in school history (23), and he currently stands just one long ball shy of tying the school record for homers in a season - a mark he set last season. As a sophomore, Novalis was an All-League second team selection.
Novalis becomes the first Mountain Hawk ever to be recognized as the league's Player of the Year.
"This honor is definitely well-deserved," said Lehigh head coach Sean Leary. "Jesse has had a terrific year so far, and it's a great honor for our program to have the league's player of the year."
Junior shortstop Eric Hoffman earns second team honors for the first time after continuing to dazzle with the glove up the middle. He made only five miscues at short, posting a fielding percentage of .969 on the season. At the plate, Hoffman has been a consistent performer, posting a .360 batting average from the leadoff spot. He boasts an on-base percentage of .456, which ranks second in the league. Hoffman also ranks in the league's top ten in hits, despite missing eight games with a hamstring injury.
"Eric has had a great season numbers-wise," Leary points out. "For him to get this recognition despite battling through injuries all season is a testament to type of player he is."
Bucknell Bison pitcher Kevin Miller was named the league's Pitcher of the Year. The junior is 7-0 this season with a 2.26 earned run average. Teammate Phil Futrick was named the league's Rookie of the Year. The freshman hurler recorded 11 saves on the season. Bucknell head coach Gene Depew earns Coach of the Year honors for the third time, after leading his squad to a Patriot League regular season title with a 15-5 league mark.
The Mountain Hawks (19-22 overall, 9-11 in Patriot League play) will make their second consecutive league tournament appearance this weekend, when they take on Navy on Saturday at Noon in Lewisburg, Pa. The winner of that contest will then face top seed Bucknell in a three-game series beginning Saturday afternoon. All Lehigh post-season games will be broadcast live on the Lehigh web site at www.lehigh.edu.