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Date: Nov 27, 2018
Another exciting season of summer baseball in Central Florida is in the books. The DeLand Suns were able to capture their second Whiting Cup after defeating the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs in a three-game series to end the year. But before that moment, there were plenty of notable team and individual performances to recognize.
- The Leesburg Lightning held firm at the top of the standings for almost the entire season. After dropping their June 1st season opener at home in a wild game against DeLand, the Lightning would not lose another game until June 25th. Their 14-game winning streak set a new mark for the Florida League, surpassing Davey Johnson's 2009 DeLand team that won 13 in a row. They ended the year with a 28-13 record, tying the 2010 Winter Park Diamond Dawgs and Sanford River Rats for third-most wins in a single season in league history.
- Leesburg featured a balanced attack that excelled on both sides of the diamond. On offense, they led the league in runs (262), hits (342), RBI (209), total bases (456), walks (203), OBP (.390), batting average (.277) and OPS (.759). Their pitching numbers were equally impressive. Despite the fact that they threw the most innings (326.1) in the league, the Lightning allowed the fewest runs (178) on the season. They also led the league in strikeouts (298), WHIP (1.41), opponent average (.228), opponent slugging (.275), and ERA (3.39).
- The Winter Garden Squeeze had a tough run to end their season. They dropped their final five games, and played themselves out of a playoff spot. They did, however, have a silver lining in the form of first baseman Aaron Anderson. The sophomore from Flagler set a new standard for batting average in a season. He went 49-113 at the plate, good for a .434 mark. What made his feat even more impressive was that he went 5-7 on the final day of the season, raising his average from .415 to .434. The previous record was .430, set by Sanford's Omar Villaman in 2016. Anderson, who also walked 23 times, had an on-base percentage of .525, the second highest in league history.
- Vlad Nunez of the Sanford River Rats turned in one of the best pitching seasons in recent memory. A late arrival due to the Stetson Hatters making the Super Regional, Nunez still managed to throw 35 innings for Sanford, allowing only three earned runs for an ERA of 1.03. That was the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher with 30+ innings since 2015.
- Jesus Valoy also impressed on the bump. The DeLand Suns lefty was the league leader in innings (46) and posted an immaculate 7-0 record in the regular season, good for the second most wins in a season in league history. He also added two more wins in the playoffs, including a complete game effort in the series-clinching game three against Winter Park.
- Jacob Teter channeled his inner Barry Bonds to lead the league in home runs this season with seven. That is the third highest total in league history. The most impressive part though, is that he accomplished the feat in only 23 games played, which is BY FAR the fewest games played by a league home run champion. Teter, a rising sophomore at Florida Southern, hit a homerun every 11.71 at-bats for the Diamond Dawgs this season.
- Jay Prather had a great year for the Leesburg Lightning, pacing the club in games, at bats, and hits. Without question though, his best stat was strikeouts. In a total of 151 plate appearances during the regular season, Prather only struck out one time. It happened in DeLand on July 20th in the 6th inning when Nick Chiseri caught him looking on a 1-2 pitch. If you add in his 18 plate appearances from the All-Star Game and playoffs, the number balloons to one strike out in 169 plate appearances on the season. Nice.
Games: 40, Fausto Lopez (Seminole/Pensacola State)
Runs: 37, Luke Brown (Leesburg/Western Kentucky)
Hits: 49, Aaron Anderson (Winter Garden/Flagler)
Doubles: 9, Joe Burke (DeLand/Kentucky Wesleyan)
Triples: 2, Five Players
RBI: 30, Tanner May (Leesburg, UNF)
Walks: 28, Wes Weeks (Leesburg, UNF)
Steals: 23, Geordon Blanton (DeLand, Marshall)
Games: 17, Dominic Jeancola (Leesburg/Embry-Riddle)
Innings: 46, Jesus Valoy (DeLand, Miami Dade)
Strikeouts: 40, Hunter Caudelle (Leesburg/Georgia Gwinnett)
Wins: 7, Jesus Valoy (DeLand/Miami Dade)
Saves: 6, Pedro Reyes (Leesburg/Miami Dade)
ERA: 1.03, Vlad Nunez (Sanford/Stetson)
BAA: .163, Vlad Nunez (Sanford/Stetson)
WHIP: .88, Devin Meyer (Sanford/Nova Southeastern)
K/9: 15.75, Zebulon Vermillion (Sanford/Arkansas)