Keith Eidson, Noah Smith earn All-State honors, four other Cougars receive All-Region recognition

Published 3:30 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Grace Christian Academy (GCA) junior baseball players Keith Eidson and Noah Smith have been chosen for the GIAA 1A All-State baseball team. GCA baseball juniors Cade Wells and Aiden Whittaker, as well as sophomores Oathen Atkinson and Jacob Elkins, received GIAA Region 3-1A All-Region honors. Eidson and Smith also received All-Region distinctions.

“It means a lot to me,” said Cougars head coach Ryan Riles. “I’m hoping it means as much to them, as far as them working hard and not being complacent with where they are. They definitely stood out.”

Keith Eidson

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Eidson played pitcher and first base during the season. He led the team on the mound with 37.1 innings pitched, facing 179 batters and allowing just 28 hits and 30 runs. He threw 40 strikeouts, 10 strikeouts looking, and recorded a 1.312 ERA and 1.366 WHIP.

At the plate, Eidson accrued a .246 batting average (BA), .403 on-base percentage (OBP) and .386 slugging percentage (SLG) on 57 at-bats. He recorded 14 hits, resulting in six singles, eight doubles and six RBIs. Eidson led the team with 18 runs scored on the season. 

In the field, Eidson made 54 putouts and 18 assists on 78 total chances. He recorded a .923 fielding percentage and was a part of three double-plays.

“He stepped up big time this year,” Riles said. “He’s definitely one of the guys if you put on the mound, he’s going to give you a chance in the game… the kid works hard, man. On and off the field, in the weight room, he’s giving his all. He hardly ever takes a day off. I’ve seen so much growth in him, and maturity.”

Noah Smith

Smith played shortstop during the season. At the plate, he finished with a .415 BA, .529 OBP and .642 SLG on 53 at-bats. He recorded 22 hits, resulting in 14 singles, four doubles, four triples and 12 RBIs. He scored 15 runs and was perfect in stolen bases, making 14 steals on 14 attempts. 

In the field, Smith made 57 putouts and 17 assists on 80 total chances. He recorded a .925 fielding percentage and was a part of one triple-play.

“He brings that leadership,” Riles said. “To have a guy on the team that can perform on a high level, and also you’ve got the other guys looking up to him, man, it does something for the team. He really brought that spark for us this year.”

Aiden Whittaker

Whittaker played third base and centerfield during the season. He is primarily a pitcher, but injury kept him off the mound for most of the year. Despite this, he played well at the plate and in the field. Whittaker earned a .400 BA, .524 OBP and a team-high .720 SLG. He recorded 20 hits, resulting in 10 singles, six doubles, two triples and a team-high 19 RBIs. He scored 15 total runs and hit two home runs 

He led the team with a .933 fielding percentage, making 32 putouts and 10 assists on 45 total chances. Whittaker was a part of four double plays.

“He swung the bat pretty good,” Riles said. “He was limited [on the mound]… so hopefully we can have him back full force by next season.”

Oathen Atkinson

Atkinson served as the team’s No.2 pitcher and played in the infield and outfield this season. The highlight of his season was a pitching performance against St. John Paul II early into the season. Atkinson threw 83 strikes on 108 batters (77% strike rate) and didn’t walk a single batter in 6.1 innings pitched. 

“Put [Atkinson] on the mound, just like with [Eidson], you know we have a chance,” Riles said. “He’s a joy to coach… I’m just extremely proud of him.”

Jacob Elkins

Elkins was the team’s closer this season. The sophomore kept the team together as games went deep into the sixth and seventh innings. Riles said Elkins was relatively new to pitcher, and he actually had to do a little convincing to get Elkins on the team for the spring. Riles is glad Elkins agreed; he described him as a “big key” to the team.

“He’s a great kid to coach. If you ask him to run through a wall, he’ll try for you,” Riles said. “I had to talk him into playing… Thankfully he came out. He had a great time. Jacob was a big key to our team, especially on the mound.”

Cade Wells

Wells was an important utility guy for the Cougars this year. Riles played the junior all over the field as well as on the mound. He said Wells came up big on offense and defense throughout the season and played a role in keeping the team consistent. Riles said his favorite part about Wells this season was getting to watch his confidence grow.

“For him to come in and be able to adapt to play infield, outfield, and even to come in, when we ran out of pitching, and pitch, he did a great job,” Riles said. “It showed a lot to me… my biggest thing this year was his confidence.”