Franklin Quartet Named ABCA/Rawlings All-Mideast Region

L-R: Frank Podkul, Ryan Bixler, Jarrod Smith and Christian Sullivan
L-R: Frank Podkul, Ryan Bixler, Jarrod Smith and Christian Sullivan

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Four members of the Franklin College baseball team were named to the NCAA Division III All-Mideast Region teams by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) on Wednesday.

Sophomore Ryan Bixler and senior Frank Podkul picked up First Team All-Mideast Region selections while sophomore Jarrod Smith earned Second Team honors and senior Christian Sullivan garnered a Third Team nod. With their selections to the first team, Bixler and Podkul move to the national ballot for ABCA All-American honors, which will be announced on May 24.

Bixler added another award to his already growing trophy case, picking up his fourth post-season award after a stellar 2018 campaign. The Logansport, Ind.-native has also been named HCAC Player of the Year, HCAC Tournament MVP and First Team All-Mideast Region by In his debut campaign for the Grizzlies, Bixler batted .369 with 15 home runs, 56 RBI, 63 runs scored, 10 doubles and 31 walks drawn. Bixler finished second on the team with a .491 on-base percentage and his .705 slugging percentage was tops among all Franklin regulars.

Podkul capped his Franklin career with a strong season, batting .327 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI, both team-highs. The Schererville, Ind.-native also claimed First Team All-HCAC honors, HCAC All-Tournament team recognition and was a First Team All-Mideast Region selection earlier this week. Podkul carried an on-base percentage of .448 and slugged .685 while scoring 52 times and drawing 30 walks on the year.

Another First Team All-HCAC selection, Smith ended his sophomore campaign by leading the Grizzlies with a .439 batting average and 72 hits. The Frankfort, Ind.-native added five home runs, drove in 38, scored 46 times and finished with the fewest strikeouts on the team, fanning just five times. Smith was named to the NCAA Central Regional All-Tournament Team after going 7-for-11 with one home run, two doubles and three runs scored over three NCAA tournament games.

Sullivan closed out his senior season by leading the Grizzlies in innings pitched (81 2/3), strikeouts (78) and earned run average (2.98) while going 6-0 over 14 appearances for the Grizzlies. The Schererville, Ind.-native adds this award to go with his First Team All-HCAC award from earlier this year.

The ABCA, founded in 1945, is the primary professional organization for baseball coaches at the amateur level. Its over 9,600 members represent all 50 states and 25 countries. Since its initial meeting of 27 college baseball coaches in June 1945, Association membership has broadened to include eight divisions: NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, NJCAA, Pacific Association Division, High School and Youth.