Lopez earns USA South Rookie of the Week in first collegiate starts

Lopez earns USA South Rookie of the Week in first collegiate starts

Maryville College's Gabe Lopez was named the USA South Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week, as the freshman hit an impressive .571 on in five games.

The Naples, Fla. native posted a .714 slugging percentage, as he added four RBI, three runs and one walk for the Scots.

"It was huge," Head Coach Cody Church said. "We were down a lot of guys that had played a lot, especially with Jake Petersen being the newest one, injury-wise. We really didn't know what we were going to do for that top-of-the-lineup type of guy who could still play centerfield from a leadership standpoint. Gabe really hadn't had much of an opportunity, and we kind of just plugged him in there to see what would happen. He really ran with that position. We were pleasantly surprised, but not shocked at the same time. He's a competitor and a great athlete. We were just really happy to see him have success early on in his career."

Lopez picked up his first collegiate starts this weekend, as the first-year Scots also played his first collegiate plays in center.

He got all three starts in centerfield during the USA South series against No. 21 Methodist University.

"We'd been working in practice some [in centerfield]," Church said. "He's a really athletic kid, and we'd really been working him more on the infield. We'd put him there in the fall, just as a utility guy – let him bounce around a little bit. We knew he could go get it. We knew the type of athleticism we would get in centerfield there. Luckily, it really worked for us this weekend."

In an 11-1 win over USA South foe Brevard College last Monday, Lopez split time at third base with senior Christian Poulsen. The Lely product went 1-for-2 with an RBI against the Tornadoes, scoring Gavin Dooley on the play.

Lopez again took to third base in relief during a tough 12-7 loss to Berry College. The Naples, Fla. native went 1-for-2 with an RBI, cutting into the Vikings' lead on a Poulsen RBI single.

Finally, Lopez had his largest performance of his career in aiding the Scots to defeat No. 21 Methodist, 3-1.

"He was our guy this weekend," Church said. "Whether he was in the nine-hole or the leadoff spot, he was kind of our spark plug this weekend. He created a lot of runs for us. Without his weekend, we would not have had the success we did down there."

The freshman went a combined 6-for-10 in the three-game series, adding three RBI, two runs, two doubles and a walk.

In the Scots' 3-1 win, Lopez went 3-for-3 with a run and a double. He added a three-RBI effort in a 4-3 loss in 10 innings, before going 3-for-4 with a run and a walk in the weekend's final game.

On the season, Lopez holds a .529 batting average, as the rookie has gone 9-for-17 in nine collegiate games. He has scored three runs on two doubles, while recording five RBI. He holds a .647 slugging percentage on the year.

Lopez will look to lead the Scots tonight, as Maryville faces off with non-conference foe Calvin College. First pitch against the Knights on Scotland Yard is set for 7 p.m.