ST. PAUL, Minn - Following a thrilling Upper Midwest Athletic Conference tournament which saw Bethany Lutheran College knock of UMAC power St. Scholastica to earn a berth to the NCAA Midwest Regional, the UMAC has announced the 2018 season awards. North Central was well represented on the list as three players earned all-conference honors; which is the highest amount for the program since 2013. North Central also won the UMAC sportsmanship award for the second consecutive year.
Cory Kukkola was selected as a 2018 First-Team All Conference honor. Kukkola becomes the second player in program history to receive the conference honor. Gary Ramos received 1st team accolades in 2013, NCU's first year a part of the UMAC conference. On the season, Kukkola had a breakout junior campaign. The former Fountain Hills (AZ) high school standout led the Rams with a .323 batting average. He also had a team high in home runs (4) and runs batted in (22) while going a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen bases. This honor is the third UMAC honor that Kukkola has received as he was named to the honorable mention team in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Freshman Steven De Silva received honorable mention honors as he hit .306 for the season with three homeruns and 11 runs batted in with 11 stolen bases. The Mililani, Hawaii native played in every game for the Rams in his first season of collegiate baseball.
Sophomore Jonathon Kutzke recieved honorable mention honors alongside De Silva. The righty from Coon Rapids, Minnesota logged 33.2 innings pitched on the mound with a 3.48 earned run average. On the season, he struck out 29 batters and issued just four walks. Kutzke led the Rams with a 2-1 record and recorded one save out of the bullpen.
The Rams finished the season in seventh place in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. The seventh place finish is the highest placement in the conference in program history. All three UMAC award recipients return to the diamond for the Rams next season. For a look at the entire UMAC release on the 2018 baseball awards click here.