Lankford a freshman all american

Published 9:28 am Thursday, June 22, 2017

UNC-Asheville third baseman Brandon Lankford can add All-American to his resume as he was named to the 2017 Collegiate Baseball News Freshman All-American team.

This is a truly special honor. Lankford became the fifth Collegiate Baseball News Freshman All-American in program history and the first since David Williams in 2004. He also joined Israel Victor (2002), Grant Rembert (2002) and Aaron Rembert (2000) as Bulldogs earning the honor. He joined Radford first baseman Spencer Horwitz and Campbell outfielder Matthew Barefoot as the three representatives from the Big South Conference in the honor.

“Congratulations to Brandon for this incredible achievement,” UNC-A coach Scott Friedholm said. “He worked hard this year with assistant coach Jonathan Johnston on his offense and assistant coach Chris Bresnahan defensively to put himself in this spot. We hope, as a program, this is only the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come for him.”

Last month, Lankford ended his freshman campaign by earning Big South All-Tournament honors, becoming the first Bulldog to earn the plaudit since 2006. He was also named the second-ever Big South Conference Come Ready Nutrition Freshman of the Week on Feb. 27.

“I honestly couldn’t believe it was true,” Lankford said of making the All-America team. “You don’t expect to make a huge honor like that, and when I got the news I was surprised. But, of course, I was really excited, too.”

For the year, Lankford batted .268 in 56 games, notching a team-high 55 hits, including 15 doubles and 10 home runs, also team highs. He scored 37 runs and drove in 46, also a team-best, and slugged .448. In the field, he boasted 53 putouts and 76 assists.

Lankford’s 46 RBIs were tied for sixth-most in the Big South, while his 15 doubles and 10 home runs were both tied for fourth-most in the league.

“Coach Johnston really emphasized using my legs in my swing and to keep my bat in the zone as long as possible, which helped me a ton,” Lankford said.

Lankford started his collegiate career in fine form as he registered a hit in his first 12 games, including five multi-hit performances. In total, he registered 14 multi-hit games and ended the season on a five-game hitting streak. He knocked in multiple runs in 11 contests and had three RBIs in three games.

In the Bulldogs’ four games at Lexington County Baseball Stadium as part of the Big South Conference Championship, Lankford batted .313, going 5 for 16 as he garnered a hit in all four games, with four runs batted in, three runs scored and a home run. The freshman slugged .500 and was perfect in the field with four putouts and five assists.

Lankford’s best game of the tournament came in the Bulldogs’ elimination game on May 27 against Gardner-Webb. He went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs. His greatest moment came the day before, when Lankford lifted Asheville to a 2-1 win over No. 2 seed Liberty with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth.