The sophomore third baseman and Buckhead resident certainly appears to be fulfilling his potential after a big 2013 season, for which he was named the Atlantic Sun Conference player of the year.
“It’s an honor,” Young said. “There’s a lot of really good players in [the Atlantic Sun Conference] and I happened to be selected as the best one this year. You try not to think about individual accomplishments as much as team wins. But, if you play the right way and you’re willing to be a good teammate – I think the individual accolades will take care of themselves.”
Young led the nation among NCAA Division I players in hits with 105. He also led the team in batting average (.401), on-base percentage (.458) and total bases (141) as well as being second in RBIs (65) and finishing the season with a 30-game hitting streak.
“He had a great individual season and from day one until we finished, he was one of the most consistent guys we ever coached here,” Mercer coach Craig Gibson said. “Just a great baseball makeup. He plays hard every day and guys really feed off of him. The biggest compliment I can give him is he makes his teammates better. He’s a hard worker and I think guys recognize that.”
It was a big improvement for Young, who hit .367 with three home runs, 37 RBIs, a .443 on-base percentage and 106 total bases in 59 games as a freshman in 2012.
“I had a good freshman year last year, so I knew I could be a good player in this league,” Young said. “I’ve always worked hard in the [batting] cage. I think a lot of it is just given ability, but I think a lot of it is work and you can draw inspiration from the people that you’re around and your team.”
“We had a lot of good seniors that kind of showed me the ropes and they gave me a lot of good advice on what to do here and what to do there. I had a good hitting coach in Justin Holmes, who was a shortstop for Georgia [2002-05] and he helped me with my swing and how I approach the plate. But, the hard work and the senior leadership really helped me excel this season.”
With his potent bat, he helped lead Mercer (43-18) to the Atlantic Sun regular-season championship and an at-large bid in the NCAA Regionals – the first one in the program’s history.
While the Bears were eliminated early from the NCAA Starkville Regional in Starkville, Miss. with losses to South Alabama (9-4, May 31) and Central Arkansas (6-5, June 1), Young continue to shine at the plate.
He hit .625, going 5-for-8 at bat, with three doubles, four RBIs and a 1.000 slugging percentage and was named to the Regional All-Tournament team for his efforts.
“We had a really good regular season and we made it to our first sectionals, so that was great,” Young said. “I was hot throughout the season and I stayed hot in the regionals.”
It was NYO where Young got his start in baseball, playing in the Buckhead youth league from age five to 14.
“It was definitely a big chunk of my childhood and it obviously had a lasting effect on me,” Young said. “[From being in NYO], I understand the whole aspect of team, playing the right way. I had some really good coaches and they really cared about me as a person. So, I really enjoyed my NYO experience. I definitely wouldn’t change it for anything, for sure.”
Young achieved big success at well at Marist, where he hit .424 with five home runs, 41 RBIs and 11 stolen bases as a senior in 2011 and helped lead the War Eagles to back-to-back Class AAAA state championships in 2010 and ’11.
Marist coach Mike Strickland said he knew that Young would continue to be successful on the college level.
“He’s a tremendous player of the game and an even better example of humility and what it takes to be a team player,” Strickland said. “I am not surprised by his accomplishments [at Mercer]. He is so driven in his pursuit of excellence in all that he does, that the accomplishments were coming – it was just a matter of time.”