GREENSBORO - Throughout his first semester as an Aggie, Xavier Macklin wasn't able to participate in the North Carolina A&T baseball team's fall practices because an oblique injury prevented him from swinging a bat. Therefore, how great a player Macklin would be on the Division I level was still a mystery to even his teammates. Once Macklin regained his ability to swing, the mystery was solved.
For the third straight season, Macklin earned first-team All-MEAC honors as the conference released its first and second teams on Tuesday. Freshman shortstop Luke Tendler joins Macklin on the first team. Junior second baseman Marquis Riley and sophomore left fielder Andre McKoy were second-team selections.
"We're extremely proud of Luke and Xavier," said N.C. A&T head coach Keith Shumate. "They both have put on a show offensively."
Macklin is one of the best home run hitters in the nation. He was recently awarded MEAC Player of the Week after hitting five home runs over a six-day period. Macklin is hitting .366 with 22 homers, 66 RBIs and his slugging percentage stands at .814. Nationally, he ranks third in home runs and slugging percentage, and is tied for 12th in RBIs.
There are very few current college players who have posted career numbers similar to Macklin's. His 49 home runs, 182 RBIs and 424 total bases all rank in the top 20 among active career statistical leaders.
"Pound for pound, Xavier may be the strongest baseball player in college baseball," said Shumate. "He's really into a groove where he knows what he is looking for when he goes to the plate. It's been a big difference maker for him."
Like Macklin, there was a bit of mystery surrounding Tendler during his first season as an Aggie. Shumate had every reason to believe in Tendler's offensive prowess. He didn't, however, know how well Tendler would play defensively.
"He was a second baseman and outfielder before we signed him," said Shumate. "We had no idea if he could play a respectable shortstop. His play there has been a pleasant surprise."
Tendler, who was named N.C. A&T's Freshman Male Athlete of the Year, leads the team in hitting with a .385 batting average. He also has six home runs, 19 doubles and 51 RBIs. Defensively, he has been involved in 243 plays with just 21 errors. Shumate called his shortstop "fearless." He also described him as a "hungry, hungry hitter."
Riley earned his second straight second-team selection. A majority of the season, he has been the nation's leader in toughest to strike out. He currently ranks second in that category with only four strikeouts in 224 plate appearances. Riley is hitting .348 with six home runs and 37 RBIs. He also has an impressive .959 field percentage.
After starting only nine games as freshman, McKoy has emerged as a key part of the Aggies offense in 2011. McKoy is hitting .335 with nine doubles and 23 RBIs. The speedy outfielder also has stolen 15 bases this season.
The Aggies will open the MEAC Tournament 6 p.m., Wednesday at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla., against Norfolk State. The Aggies are gunning for their fifth championship appearance in seven in years.Test.