TUCSON, Ariz. – UNC Asheville baseball freshman third baseman Brandon Lankford can add All-American to his résumé as he was named to the 2017 Collegiate Baseball News Freshman All-American Team as announced Wednesday morning.
"Congratulations to Brandon on this incredible achievement," head baseball 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."
Lankford becomes the fifth Collegiate Baseball News Freshman All-American in program history and first since David Williams earned the honor in 2004. He also joins Israel Victor (2002), Grant Rembert (2002) and Aaron Rembert (2000) as Bulldogs earning the honor.
He joins Radford's Spencer Horwitz (first base) and Campbell's Matthew Barefoot (outfield) as the three representatives from the Big South Conference in the honor.
Last month, Lankford ended his freshman campaign by earning Big South Baseball Championship All-Tournament honors, becoming the first Bulldog to earn the plaudit since the 2006 season. He was also named the second-ever Big South Conference Come Ready Nutrition Freshman of the Week on Feb. 27.
For the year, Lankford batted .268 in 56 games, notching a team-high 55 hits, including 15 doubles and 10 home runs, both also team highs. He scored 37 runs and batted in 46 himself, also a team-best, and slugged .448 for the season. In the field, Lankford boasted 53 putouts and 76 assists.
Lankford's 46 RBIs was tied for sixth-most in the Big South this season while his 15 doubles and 10 home runs were both tied for fourth-most in the league.
Lankford started his collegiate career in fine form as he registered a hit in the first 12 games of his career, including five multi-hit performances. In his first 12 games, he had 10 games with at least one RBI and batted in multiple runs in four of those games, including three in the first game of a three-game series against UMBC at home on March 10.
In total, he registered 14 multi-hit games and ended the season on a five-game hitting streak. He batted 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 2017 Big South Conference Baseball 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 the morning of Saturday, May 27, against Gardner-Webb. He batted 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored against the Runnin' Bulldogs. The day before, Lankford lifted UNC Asheville to a 2-1 win over No. 2 seed Liberty in the top of the ninth with a two-run homer.
UNC Asheville baseball's season came to an end on Saturday, May 27, as the sixth-seeded Bulldogs fell 7-2 to fifth-seeded and 2017 Big South Champion Radford in the semifinal round of the league tournament.
The Bulldogs (25-32) put together an impressive run this season and did something that a Bulldog team had not accomplished since the 2007 season: win two games in the postseason conference tourney to advance to the semifinal round.
UNC Asheville saw its season come to an end with 25 wins on the year, tied for sixth-most in program history and the most since the 2004 team won 26. Along the way, the Bulldogs were never swept and won critical games by answering the call just about every day.
Lankford is one of 21 players who stand to return next season for the Bulldogs and Friedholm. He is playing summer ball for the Haysville Aviators in the Jayhawk Baseball League.