A year after being named his league's Rookie of the Year, Dan Haugh earned an even bigger baseball honor as a sophomore.
The former St. John's Prep star, who now plays third base for Wheaton College, was recently named the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Top Player of the Year.
Haugh has played a major role in the Lyons' success ever since he arrived at the Norton campus. Wheaton is currently 32-8 heading into next week's NCAA Division 3 tournament at Eastern Connecticut State, having hosted — and won — the NEWMAC tournament for the automatic NCAA berth.
The Lyons are currently ranked 14th in the D3baseball.com poll and second in New England, trailing only fellow NCAA team Tufts.
"Dan has been a consistent contributor in our lineup to this point in the season," said 14-year head coach Eric Podbelski, who was recently voted the NEWMAC Coach of the Year for the ninth time in his tenure. He won his 400th career game last Friday and has had six straight seasons of 30 wins or more. "He was at his best when we needed it most in some of our big conference weekends, and again in our recent conference tournament."
Being named Top Player came as a total surprise to Haugh, who didn't know anything about it until his name was announced at the team's banquet. He is also one of five Lyons to be named to conference all-stars.
Haugh led the conference in hits (60), RBI (44), doubles (15) and total bases (89), in addition to the second-best batting average (.385) and third-best slugging percentage (.571).
Against conference opponents he led all players in batting (.581), on-base percentage (.615), RBI (19) and tied for first in hits (25). He was also second in slugging percentage (.744) and tied for second in runs (16), total bases (32) and sacrifice flies (2).
"Our team is having a great season," said Haugh, who bats cleanup. "I'm really lucky to have Paul Malaguti (a fellow Andover native) hitting ahead of me. He's always on base, so I have a chance to knock him in. And if I don't get the job done, Sean Munley is behind me. It helps take the pressure off because I know he'll pick me up."
Haugh, Malaguti and Munley are all First Team NEWMAC all-stars. The former St. John's Prep superstar has reached base either via a hit or walk in all but one game for Wheaton this season and has at least one hit in 28 games.
He started the season red-hot with a 13-game hitting streak and has recorded 17 multi-hit and 11 multi-RBI games. Haugh takes 38 runs scored, four homers and an on-base percentage of .438 with him into the NCAAs.
"We got off to a rather slow start this spring. Last year we went to Arizona and had a 9-1 record, but this year on our spring trip to Florida we played tougher competition and came back with a 3-3 record. We picked it up from there and kept it rolling," Haugh said.
All the individual honors he has achieved this season are nice, but Haugh has a bigger goal in mind.
"We all want to win the Regionals and go on to the Nationals," Haugh said. "Being in the World Series is what everybody on our team is shooting for."