Story courtesy of Texas Lutheran Sports Information Department
At the opening ceremony for the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship, Texas Lutheran senior center fielder Riley Schaefer collected the NCAA's Elite 90 award - the honor that recognizes the baseball championship's top student-athlete.
Schaefer is the first student-athlete in TLU history to claim an NCAA Elite 90 award and just the second SCAC student-athlete. Emily Jorgens of Trinity University won the award for women's soccer in 2013.
The Elite 90, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers.
The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 90 championships.
"It's just been kind of surreal," said Schaefer. "I set some goals for myself at the beginning of the year, and I kind of kept them to myself. I didn't even know this award existed, but it's something that I can be super proud of. I know my parents are super proud for keeping on me about school and doing all that as well as doing baseball. I'm super excited about it."
Schaefer is the nation's hits leader, with 86. He has been named the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year, the D3baseball.com West Region Player of the Year, a First Team All-American from D3baseball.com, and a Second Team All-American from the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings.
Outside of all of his on-the-field honors, Schaefer was recognized Thursday night for his work and dedication in the classroom. An accounting major and working toward his master of accountancy degree, Schaefer holds a 4.0 grade point average and has earned 138 hours of college credit.
Schaefer led TLU Baseball to the 2018 NCAA Division III World Series. The Bulldogs advanced to their first-ever DIII World Series by winning the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament and by winning the NCAA Division III Spokane, Wash. Regional last weekend.
Schaefer is fourth nationally in total bases (130), seventh in runs (60), 31st in batting average (.434), and 38th in runs per game (1.28). Schaefer also has 20 stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .480.
The Bulldogs, at 38-9, are the sixth seed in the national championship tournament. TLU opens the World Series with a 7:45 p.m. central matchup with No. 3 overall seed Wooster (Ohio). TLU and Wooster are in the "Pool B" four-team bracket. The winner of the "Pool B" double-elimination bracket faces the "Pool A" winner in a best two-of-three series for the national championship.
The DIII Baseball World Series starts Friday and runs (potentially) through Wednesday, May 30.