Athletics

Starke ’23 Named Conference Freshman of the Year

Justin Starke ’23 (pictured), redshirt freshman, was recognized May 25 as the Southern Conference’s Baseball Freshman of the Year. He plays first base.—Photo courtesy VMI Keydets.

After a record-breaking 2021 season, Justin Starke ’23 was recognized May 25 as the Southern Conference’s Baseball Freshman of the Year by both the league’s coaches and media members.

Starke paced the Keydets this spring with a .422 batting average and finished the season by reaching base safely in the last 24 straight games, including a 13-game hitting streak. Starke’s .525 on base percentage is the highest-ever for a single season in program history and his batting average ranks third.

He earned SoCon Player of the Week twice and Player of the Month once. Starke leads the conference in batting average and on base percentage and is sixth in slugging percentage and hits.

The Keydets had four players earn All-Freshman Team honors: Tyler Bradt ’23, Trey Morgan ’24, Zac Morris ’24, and Starke.

“Congrats to Justin for earning the Freshman of the Year for the SoCon, as well as Zac Morris, Trey Morgan, and Tyler Bradt for placing on the All-Freshman team,” said Jonathan Hadra ’04, VMI head coach. “This team battled through much adversity this year like all teams did across the country, and to see them grow and compete together was special. We lost some close games early, but as the season continued our young team learned what it took to win those close games and we finished playing our best baseball at the end of the year. These four guys played a major role in the growth that our team made and we are already looking forward to the fall in anticipation of the leadership roles that each of these players take to continue to move the program forward.”

2021 SoCon Baseball Coaches All-Southern Conference Teams
Player of the Year: Colin Davis, OF, Wofford
Pitcher of the Year: Elliot Carney, RHP, Wofford
Freshman of the Year: Justin Starke, 1B, VMI
Coach of the Year: Todd Interdonato, Wofford

First team
SP Colby Stuart, ETSU
SP Elliot Carney, Wofford
RP Dalton Rhadans, Wofford
C Luke Robinson, Western Carolina
1B Justin Starke, VMI
2B Garett Delano, Mercer
SS R.J. Yeager, Mercer
3B Jack Renwick, Wofford
OF Corey Rosier, UNCG
OF Justice Bigbie, Western Carolina
OF Colin Davis, Wofford
DH Will Prater, Western Carolina

Second team
SP Garett Delano, Mercer
SP Zebby Matthews, Western Carolina
RP Luke Sutko, Mercer
C Collin Price, Mercer
1B Sonny DiChiara, Samford
2B Hogan Windish, UNCG
SS Pascanel Ferreras, Western Carolina
3B Trevor Austin, Mercer
OF Ryan McCarthy, The Citadel
OF Bill Knight, Mercer
OF Nolen Hester, Wofford
DH Tyler McManus, Samford

All-freshman team
Matthew Bollenbacher, ETSU
Ashton King, ETSU
Hunter Loyd, ETSU
Colby Thomas, Mercer
Chase Isbell, Samford
Tyler Bradt, VMI
Trey Morgan, VMI
Zac Morris, VMI
Justin Starke, VMI
Pascanel Ferreras, Western Carolina
Jack Renwick, Wofford
Trey Yunger, Wofford

2021 SoCon Sports Media Association Baseball All-Conference Teams
Player of the Year: Colin Davis, OF, Wofford
Pitcher of the Year: Elliot Carney, RHP, Wofford
Freshman of the Year: Justin Starke, 1B, VMI
Coach of the Year: Todd Interdonato, Wofford

First team
SP Colby Stuart, ETSU
SP Elliot Carney, Wofford
RP Dalton Rhadans, Wofford
C Luke Robinson, Western Carolina
1B Justin Starke, VMI
2B Garett Delano, Mercer
SS R.J. Yeager, Mercer
3B Jack Renwick, Wofford
OF Corey Rosier, UNCG
OF Justice Bigbie, Western Carolina
OF Colin Davis, Wofford
DH Will Prater, Western Carolina

Second team
SP Garett Delano, Mercer
SP Zebby Matthews, Western Carolina
RP Austin Parsley, UNCG
C Lawson Hill, Wofford
1B Sonny DiChiara, Samford
2B Hogan Windish, UNCG
SS Pascanel Ferreras, Western Carolina
3B Trevor Austin, Mercer
OF Ryan McCarthy, The Citadel
OF Bill Knight, Mercer
OF Nolen Hester, Wofford
DH Tyler McManus, Samford

Editor’s Note: This article was first published at vmikeydets.com.