Valpo Trio Named to MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team

rot1The Valparaiso University baseball team was well represented as the Missouri Valley Conference announced its MVC Scholar-Athlete selections on Tuesday. Three Valpo players earned first team recognition for their accomplishments both on the field and in the classroom.

Junior pitcher Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge), junior outfielder Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper) and senior designated hitter Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) were all recognized as members of the MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team. Only one program (DBU) had more than three players garner first-team status, while Valpo was one of three teams to place three on the squad.

Tieman, who owns a 3.82 cumulative grade point average in finance, made 15 starts and logged 88 2/3 innings as a junior. He led the team in innings pitched for the second consecutive year and enters his senior season 40 innings pitched away from cracking the Top 10 in program history for a career.

The right-hander racked up 78 strikeouts to lead the team, the most by a Valpo pitcher since 2015. He led the team in strikeouts for a third straight season, becoming the second consecutive Valpo pitcher to do so after Dalton Lundeen led the team in that area from 2014-2016. Before Lundeen, the last pitcher to lead Valpo in strikeouts in three consecutive years was Shawn Barker from 1988-1990. Tieman enters his senior season with 185 career strikeouts, needing 202 to crack the Top 10 in program history.

Tieman repeats as an MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team choice after also receiving the honor in 2018. His list of achievements also includes 2018 All-MVC Honorable Mention, 2017 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American and 2017 Horizon League All-Freshman Team.

Fitzsimmons had a breakout junior season, playing in 49 of his team’s 50 games and making 45 starts after playing in just 16 games and making three starts as a sophomore. He went from a career .195 hitter with one double over his first two seasons to batting .268 with nine doubles plus one home run. He finished fourth on the team in batting average and RBIs while tying for second on the club in doubles. Fitzsimmons boasts a cumulative GPA of 3.96 in political science.

Billinger, the owner of a 3.45 GPA in psychology, adds to his long list of accomplishments in his two seasons at Valpo. He batted .306 while starting all 50 games as a senior in 2019, leading the team in doubles (14), home runs (9), RBIs (40), total bases (98), slugging percentage (.544), walks (29) and on-base percentage (.407).

Billinger, who joined the program in 2018 as a junior college transfer, has also earned 2019 All-MVC Second Team, 2019 Google Cloud Academic All-District selected by CoSIDA and 2018 All-MVC First Team. In 2018, he tied the program record for doubles in a single season with 23. He finished with a batting average of .315 to go along with 86 RBIs while starting all 103 games during his two-year Valpo career.

The criteria for the Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete Team voting parallels the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) standards for Google Cloud Academic All-America voting. Nominees must be starters or important reserves, with at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average. Student-athletes must have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at their institution and must have completed at least one full academic year at their institution.

2019 MVC Baseball Scholar-Athlete First Team

  • Name, School Yr. Pos. GPA Major Hometown (Previous School)
  • Joe Aeilts, Illinois State * Jr. OF 3.71 Business Administration Champaign, Ill. (Champaign Central)
  • Jarod Bayless, DBU ^ Sr. P 3.79 Exercise Science Texarkana, Texas (Northeast Texas CC)
  • Blake Billinger, Valparaiso Sr. DH 3.45 Psychology Los Gatos, Calif. (Mission)
  • Joe Butler, Illinois State Jr. 3B 3.76 Agribusiness Channahon, Ill. (Minooka)
  • Burl Carraway, DBU So. P 3.80 Business College Station, Texas (A&M Consolidated)
  • Cole Cook, Bradley Sr. P 3.51 Communications Washington, Ill. (Illinois Central College)
  • Steven Fitzsimmons, Valparaiso Jr. OF 3.96 Political Science Golden Valley, Minn. (Robbinsdale Cooper)
  • Jackson Glenn, DBU Jr. 3B 3.80 Business Administration Cedar Hill, Texas (Grayson College)
  • Brad Harrison, Southern Illinois * Jr. P 3.64 Civil Engineering O'Fallon, Ill. (O'Fallon)
  • Brent Headrick, Illinois State Jr. P 3.58 Business Administration Custer Park, Ill. (Reed-Custer)
  • Collin Liberatore, Indiana State Jr. P 3.51 Communications Greensburg, Penn. (Pittsburgh)
  • Evan Sandmann, DBU Sr. OF 3.59 Masters of Business Admin Frankfort, Ill. (Lincoln Way East)
  • Andy Shadid, Bradley ^ Sr. OF 3.51 Masters of Business Admin Peoria, Ill. (Notre Dame HS)
  • Luke Shadid, Bradley ^ Jr. SS 3.66 Business (Finance) Peoria, Ill. (Notre Dame HS)
  • Jon Tieman, Valparaiso ^ Jr. P 3.82 Finance Crystal Lake, Ill. (Prairie Ridge)
  • ^2018 First Team *2018 Honorable Mention

2019 MVC Baseball Scholar-Athlete Honorable Mention

  • Name, School Yr. Pos. GPA Major Hometown (Previous School)
  • Jack Duffy, Missouri State * Jr. OF 3.72 Advertising & Promotion Kansas City, Mo. (Staley)
  • Tyler Grauer, Indiana State Jr. P 3.49 Sport Management Shawnee, Kan. (Mill Valley)
  • MD Johnson, DBU Sr. P 3.22 Kinesiology Red Oak, Texas (Homeschool Athletic Assoc.)
  • Kragen Kechely, DBU ^ Jr. P 3.78 Sports Management Austin, Texas (Vista Ridge)
  • Jordan Martinson, DBU Sr. P 3.32 Business Management North Richland Hills, Texas (Birdville)
  • Jake Means, Indiana State Sr. 3B 3.46 General Studies Gardner, Kan. (Cowley CC)
  • Nate Reeder, Evansville Sr. OF 3.60 Math Shawnee, Kan. (Shawnee Mission NW)
  • Peyton Sherlin, DBU So. P 3.92 Finance Deer Park, Texas (Deer Park)
  • Travis Stone, DBU Sr. P 4.00 Masters of Sports Management Carrollton, Texas (Weatherford College)
  • Parker Towns, DBU Sr. P 3.92 Finance Tyler, Texas (Howard College)
  • Tyler Ward, Indiana State * Sr. P 3.55 Athletic Training Santa Claus, Ind. (Heritage Hills)
  • ^2018 First Team *2018 Honorable Mention