QU catcher Napleton hammering opposing pitching
QUINCY (WGEM) - As Luke Napleton circled the bases for the fifth time in three days, he was feeling pretty good.
The Quincy University junior catcher had just smacked his fifth home run in two days during the final game of a three-game sweep of Augustana (S.D.) last Saturday at QU Stadium.
“It was my last at-bat of the day and I really smashed it to left field,” said Napleton. “So I’m feeling good running around the bases and when I get back to the dugout, the entire team is giving me the silent treatment.
“I guess they figured they congratulated me enough. So then after I put all my equipment away, they all jumped on me and celebrated. That was exciting.”
Napleton went 8-for-13 with five home runs and eight RBIs during the Hawks three-game sweep over Augustana by 7-2, 7-2 and 10-0 scores.
In Game 1 Friday, Napleton hit a two-run homer to left in the third inning (“wind was blowing in”) and added a solo blast (“was looking for a double for a cycle but it went out”) to right in the eighth inning.
In Game 2 Friday, he hit a solo homer (“curveball up, that was my best of the day”) to right-center in the fifth.
He added two more home runs on Saturday, a solo shot (“a slider hit pretty well”) to left-center in the fifth inning and a solo home run (“crushed it”) to left in the seventh inning.
For his exploits, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named Napleton as the NCAA Div. II Player of the Week.
The LaGrange, Ill., (St. Rita High School) native was also named the Midwest Region Player of the Week, as well as Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week.
Napleton and shortstop Gino D’Alessio became the first Hawks to win back-to-back GLVC Player of the Week honors since 2017 after D’Alessio won the previous week.
For the season, Napleton is batting .351 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs. He also has a .387 on-base percentage and a .912 slugging percentage in 2023.
“It felt good,” said Napleton, whose next hit will give him 100 for his QU career. “For two days I was swinging good with not much pressure.”
Napleton, who normally hits third, is tied for fourth on the all-time QU list for home runs with 30. The career leader Lance Logsdon with 37 bats fourth giving the nationally-ranked Hawks a solid 1-2 power punch.
“Luke really helps us offensively and defensively,” said second-year QU coach Matt Schissel. “He had to wait his turn as a freshman because we had two fifth-year catchers who helped him prepare. Besides his bat, he does a great job with our pitching staff.”
QU is off to an 11-3 start against what one rating service calls the second toughest schedule in NCAA Div. II.
“We’ve won 11 games against some quality opponents but we still have a lot of work to do and that starts this weekend with conference play,” Napleton said. “That’s where the money is made.”
QU is scheduled to host Missouri S&T in a four-game series in Great Lakes Valley Conference action this weekend. Doubleheaders are currently scheduled for today and Sunday with Saturday a day off due to expected inclement weather.
RATINGS GAME: QU continues to receive national recognition.
In this week’s ranking of NCAA Div. II teams, QU are:
- No. 10: Perfectgame USA
- No. 7: Collegiate Baseball
- No. 15: National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
- No. 6: Turner Sports Wayne Cavadi’s #D2BSB Power 10
Cavadi wrote of the Hawks, who moved up from No. 16 to No. 6:
“The Hawks have been on the outside looking in for some time but they are now in the top 10. The metrics speak for themselves: The Hawks have played the second-toughest schedule in DII baseball and are 11-3 to show for it. They have a series win against Tampa (no one else does) and most recently swept Northwood and Augustana (S.D.), two very good (likely tournament) teams. This team can sure hit, and Luke Napleton may be the hottest with five home runs in his last three games.”
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