Nate Lape is the first Marshall player to win inclusion on the National All-Star Lineup, sponsored by the College Baseball Foundation, as well as the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week award. He tore the cover off the ball in the six wins last week, hitting .542 (13 hits in 24 at-bats), including five home runs, three doubles and 11 RBI. Lape also scored 12 runs, stole a pair of bases, drew two walks and struck out only three times to help Marshall to a pair of three-game sweeps over Valparaiso and 2007 NCAA Regional participant VMI on the road.
Lape is team leader in almost every offensive category for the Herd this season. In 14 games, he has a .509 overall batting average, a 1.075 slugging percentage, eight home runs and 20 RBI, six doubles, 24 runs scored and is 4-for-5 in stolen base attempts. He leads C-USA in batting average by .035 points, leads in slugging percentage by a huge .311 percentage, leads in homers by two and leads in total bases with 57, nine more than any other player in the league despite having less games than other teams.
Nate Lape, shown last season versus Tulane, is the Conference USA Hitter of the Week and the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week. Lape leads MU and C-USA in batting average, slugging percentage, runs, home runs and total bases.photo from HerdZone.com
Lape is third in the league in on-base percentage (.562) and RBI, fifth in hits and seventh in doubles, but he is hardly alone among the leaders in Conference USA from the Herd. Catcher Tommy Johnson is fourth in homers with four and 11th in slugging percentage (.612). First baseman Josh Valle is fourth in double plays fielded (11) and eight in hit by pitches (4). Brandon Casamassima, now at third base after playing shortstop last season, is second in the league with three sac bunts. Adam Yeager, who played at Huntington High and transferred back to MU from Cincinnati, is third in stolen base attempts (11) and sixth in steals (8).
The Herd is also getting some nice pitching by some additional local products. Andrew Blain, who played at nearby Spring Valley H.S., is 2-1 (two wins tied for ninth in league) and is 11th in earned run average at 3.15. Steve Blevins, who played about an hour from Huntington in Louisa, Kentucky, and also transferred from UC, is ninth in the league in opponent batting average (.224) and is also 2-1. True freshman Arik Sikula, who lead South Charleston H.S. to the WV SSAC AAA crown in 2006, then was all-state again for Hurricane H.S. in nearby Putnam County, is first in C-USA in games finished (7), third in games in relief (8) and saves (2) and fifth in appearances (8). Dan Straily, a transfer from Western Oregon University, is tied for eighth with 23 strikeouts, tied for third with 11 strikeouts looking and fifth in hit batters with four.
A transfer last season from the University of North Carolina, Lape made a start in 29 of 32 games in first season with Herd. Last season, he registered a team-best .513 slugging percentage, notched 20 runs batted in, four homers, 10 doubles and had multiple RBI in six games. At North Carolina, he played in nine games for Tar Heels, with two hits in six at-bats on team that advanced to championship series of College World Series.
A native of Huntington, New York, Lape was a four-year standout at Friends Academy, two-times winning first-team all-state selection. He led team to Class C New York state title as junior (first state title in school history) and was named state MVP. He is the son of Herb and Irene Lape and has brother, Erin (34) and sister, Jen (30). His brother played basketball at Hamilton and his father rowed at Princeton.
Lape will look to help power the Herd to a pair of victories against Kent State Tuesday, March 18, at the West Virginia Tech field at Montgomery, W.Va., due to wet grounds at the YMCA Kennedy Center Field in Huntington. The Herd will have its Conference USA home-opening series against Rice at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston this weekend, playing Friday and Saturday (March 21-22) at 7 p.m., then on Easter Sunday at Noon. Appalachian Power Park is the home of the South Atlantic League's Class A West Virginia Power, a farm club of the Milwaukee Brewers. Sunday's game will be heard on ESPN 930-AM in Huntington.