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Four Heels Receive All-ACC Honors in Baseball

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Pitcher Reilly Hovis led a group of Tar Heels named to the three All-ACC teams announced by the ACC on Monday. Hovis was UNC's sole member of the All-ACC First Team. Hovis, a sophomore, finished the regular season with 7-1 record and six saves becoming Mike Fox's "go to" pitcher in the bullpen after Chris McCue was lost for the season due to injury. Hovis posted a 1.80 ERA and struck out 76 batters in just 55 innings of work. Opponents are batting just .172 against Hovis.

The Tar Heels' leading batter, shortstop Michael Russell, was named to the second team and joined by sophomore starting pitcher Trent Thornton. Russell was far and away the best hitter in the lineup at one point hitting safely in 19 straight games. The junior shortstop batted .338 with 4 home runs and 29 RBIs. Russell was also the team leader in stolen bases with 13 swipes in 18 attempts. Thornton was the ace of the staff all season and put together a solid year in his first as a full-time starter. The sophomore went 7-3 with a 2.02 ERA striking out 76 in 89 innings.

DH Tom Zengel, who batted .259 and led the team with 33 RBIs, was named to the third team.

With UNC playing NC State tomorrow in a play-in game for the right to enter pool play in the ACC Tournament, Fox is opting to send Hovis to the mound in hopes of getting the Heels over the hump. Hovis has not started a game this season but like last year in the College World Series when Fox used Thornton as a starter, the Tar Heel coach is opting to use the best available pitcher.

Heels open the ACC Tournament on Tuesday at 11 AM versus NC State.