VIRGINIA — The MCAC has named Mesabi Range College sophomore Dawson Tweet as the MCAC Northern Division Baseball Player of the Year. In addition, Norsemen head coach Chris Vito was named the Northern Division Coach of the Year.
The honors didn’t stop for Mesabi Range, with six players total earning postseason recognition.
Those named to the All-MCAC North First Team include Tweet, a second baseman from Russell, Manitoba, sophomore right-handed pitcher Gabriel Soto (Tucson, Ariz.) and freshman left-handed pitcher Brandon Lind (Hibbing, Minn./Eveleth-Gilbert High School).
Tweet was the top vote-getter among all Northern Division infielders, while Soto was the top vote-getter among all Northern Division pitchers.
Those named to the All-MCAC North Second Team include sophomore catcher/shortstop Jackson Bode (Courtland, Minn.), sophomore outfielder Cole Meyer (Hoyt Lakes, Minn./Mesabi East High School) and freshman shortstop/third baseman Nick Peters (Virginia, Minn./Virginia High School).
Tweet boasted a .429 batting average this season. The sophomore collected 39 hits with 10 doubles, two triples and five home runs. He drove in 25 runs, stole seven bases and scored a run 21 times. Defensively, he put up a fielding percentage of .975.
On the award, Vito said that Tweet is the model definition of a student-athlete.
“He’s just a special kid,” Vito said. “I can’t say enough about him. He just graduated from Mesabi with high academic honors. He’s a member of the student senate. He’s supportive of all the other teams and organizations on campus. Everybody knows who he is and for him to be the highest vote getter in the infield and be named player of the year, it shows he’s respected by his opponents.
“He was injured against Hibbing and it was amazing how many coaches reached out to me and some reached out to him or talked to him when they saw him. That’s how well thought of he is in the division. He’s a special kid. He’s the heart and soul of this program.”
After this season, Tweet will move on to William Jewell College, a NCAA Division II school in Liberty, Mo. Vito expects even better things for him over the next few years.
“He’s got a baseball scholarship and I can bet he’ll be seeing some academic money coming his way. He’s just an outstanding student. When you look at the phrase ‘student-athlete,’ that’s Dawson Tweet.”
Of the other first-team selections, Soto leads the Norsemen in innings pitched this year with 37.2. He’s surrendered 18 earned runs on 37 hits and 17 walks. He’s struck out 43 with an average of 10.27 strikeouts per nine innings. He comes in with an ERA of 4.30 and pitched four complete games for the Norse.
Lind has pitched 25 innings for Mesabi Range thus far this season, giving up nine earned runs on 22 hits and 11 walks. He’s struck out 39 with an average of 14.04 strikeouts per nine innings. Lind currently has an ERA of 3.24, the best among all Norse pitchers. At the plate, Lind is a .282 hitter and has 20 hits for the Norse including two doubles, two triples and three home runs. Entering the Region XIII tournament, he has 17 RBIs and has scored 20 runs for MRC.
Looking at the second team selections, Bode led the Norse in hits this year with 39 and has a batting average of .361. He’s recorded 10 doubles and three home runs so far this season and has 19 RBIs, 30 runs scored and 15 walks to his name. Defensively, Bode has a fielding percentage of .977 and is second on the team in putouts with 96.
Meyer sits at a .366 batting average for the Norse, collecting 30 hits in 82 at-bats. He has 14 RBIs and 16 runs scored. Peters collected 38 hits for Mesabi Range so far this season, driving in 25 runs and scoring 28 of his own. He has eight doubles, two triples and five home runs.
On the success of his six players, Vito said they’re a shining example of what Norse baseball should be.
“I’m so proud of those kids,” Vito said. “Holy cow. All I can say is ‘wow.’ You couldn’t ask for better representatives not only for our program but for the school. Dawson and Gabe being the top vote getters for their position is just phenomenal along with Brandon Lind coming in and doing what he did as a freshman. Brandon, along with Nick and Cole are some great local kids that have done a lot for this team this season. Jackson too is one of the top kids in our program so I’m just so unbelievably proud of them.”
On himself being named the MCAC Northern Division Coach of the Year, Vito had to give credit to his players and the rest of his coaching staff.
“I have great assistant coaches in Dave Kunz and Tom Norman. Dave has been my right-hand man for six years here and I get to share this honor with him and I share it with these kids.
I have great assistant coaches and great players that make me look a lot smarter than I am. It’s an overwhelming honor because you’re voted on by your peers. For them to appreciate and think highly of what we do at Mesabi Range College is an amazing feeling. It’s thanks to Dave, Tom and my players that we did what we did this year.”
The first day of the Region XIII Tournament was rained out Thursday. Play is set to begin today at 10 a.m. when Mesabi Range takes on Northland in St. Cloud.