District college notebook: Seton Hill baseball's Sell finishes 4th in Martinez award voting
In high school, Nick Sell was known as “just an average player.” In college, he's categorically far from it.
The Seton Hill University sophomore baseball player, from North Allegheny High School, flirted with the NCAA Division II batting title for much of the 2013 season before settling for a team-leading .431 average — good for sixth-best — in 58 games.
“We thought it would be difficult for him to replicate the great season he had as a freshman, but he's surpassed it,” Seton Hill coach Marc Marizzaldi said.
Sell, a third baseman with 13 home runs and 57 RBI, also led Seton Hill in 2012 with a .380 batting average.
Another breakout year for Sell has gained much attention. After leading Seton Hill to a 42-17 record in 2013, he finished fourth among 10 finalists in voting for the top Division II player award, named for former New York Yankees all-star Tino Martinez.
Martinez was on the University of Tampa's first two national championship teams in 1986 and ‘87 and holds numerous school records, including a single-season batting average of .452. The Spartans won their sixth title Saturday and third since 2006.
“What Nick has done at Seton Hill in just two years is pretty impressive,” Marizzaldi said.
That Sell amassed 85 hits in 197 at-bats in 2013 and was the only sophomore amid nine juniors and seniors to make the final cut for the award, tells him he's advanced beyond average.
“The coaches should get much of the credit for the type of production I've had in the past two years,” said Sell, a first-team All-American. “They took just an average player in high school and had me work to my strengths. I wasn't sure of my capabilities in high school. I was cut in my sophomore year.
“Maz taught me about a good work ethic. The coaches had me in the weight room; no pressure, just a standard. I wasn't a power-hitter in high school, but I put on 35 pounds when I got here. The majority of it all is just grasping the game and how to play it.”
California (Pa.) utilityman Kyle Petty also made the final 10 list.
The Westmoreland County Community College duo of Whitney Thompson and Melanie Welc have earned all-National Junior College Athletic Association Region 20 honors.
Thompson batted .474 and ranked second in NJCAA Division III in steals to earn first-team honors. Welc was named to the second team after batting .345 and totaling nine pitching victories.
• Kerri Zelenak, a member of the women's basketball team at WCCC, has been named with the school's annual Outstanding Student-Athlete Award.
Andy Carter, who played men's basketball, received the Top Male Athlete Award, while Danielle Murphy, who played women's basketball, was given the Top Female Athlete Award. WCCC recently presented 33 academic awards to student-athletes with at least a 3.00 grade-point average.
The school recognized the following students as outstanding athletes by their respective sport: Nick Draghi, baseball; Tori Vallana, women's cross country; Chris Cline, men's golf; Phil Passaga, men's soccer; Karli Holmes, women's soccer; Carter, men's basketball; Jasmine Belt, women's basketball; Nicole Goodiski, women's volleyball; Whitney Thompson, softball; and Jake Garris, bowling.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.