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Ohio outfielder, Gideon Antle (18), slides into second base during a game against Central Michigan at Bob Wren Stadium, March 23, 2024, in Athens.

Baseball Column: Gideon Antle is having one of the best seasons in Ohio history

Ohio’s 2024 season has been as up and down as it gets. The team has beaten teams that appeared in the NCAA Tournament just a year ago and suffered crushing losses against some of its biggest Mid-American Conference rivals. 

Through it all, though, there has been one constant: Gideon Antle crushing baseballs. 

Antle, who currently holds a conference-leading .422 batting average, has the chance to add himself to the Ohio record books among some of the greatest players in Ohio history. If the season ended today, Antle’s batting average would rank No. 3 all-time for a single season and be the best year an Ohio hitter has had since Mike Echstenkamper hit .424 in 1979. 

Not only has Antle’s batting average excelled, but he is also on pace to be among the leaders in doubles for a season. With 25 games left, Antle already has 12 doubles, which puts him on pace to finish with just a tick over 24 doubles, which would be the third-best mark in Ohio history. 

Antle is also on pace to finish in the top 10 all-time for the most single-season hits, RBI and slugging percentage.

What Antle has done so far this season has been nothing short of spectacular. At the end of the season in June, the center fielder could very well have completed one of the best offensive seasons in Ohio history. 

The fifth-year senior out of Missouri has had a season that is worthy of a MAC Player of the Year honor. Antle would be the first player in all Ohio sports to win such an award during the current academic year. 

Antle would become the third MAC player since 2017 to hit above .400 in a single season. The only other time a player finished with above a .400 batting average was last season, when Aidan Longwell of Kent State and Jeron Williams of Toledo hit .403 to share the 2023 batting title. Williams was later named the MAC Player of the Year. 

If a player hits above .400, there should be no question who wins Player of the Year. However, Antle’s season has been overshadowed by his team’s inconsistencies and an inability to win close games. 

Ohio’s less-than-impressive 8-16 overall record as we reach the halfway point in the season is significant because so far in the 2023-24 sports season, there has been a trend of the Player of the Year being the best player on one of the conference's top teams. There is still a fair amount of season left to be played, but as of today, Ohio ranks amongst the worst teams in the MAC. 

For Men’s Basketball, Akron’s Enrique Freeman was named MAC Player of the Year before his team went to Cleveland and won the MAC Championship. Toledo’s Dequan Finn was tabbed as the MAC Football Player of the Year after leading his team to another MAC Championship game. In Women’s Basketball, Toledo’s Sophia Wiard was named Player of the Year after leading her team to a 17-1 conference record. 

Baseball differs from these sports in a myriad of different ways, but when looking at Antle’s Player of the Year chances, it’s important to understand that unlike Basketball and sometimes Football, one player can not carry a whole team to victory. While Antle has propelled the offense and often provides much-needed clutch hits, Ohio will not be able to share the success of the MAC’s best teams without a better performance from its pitching staff. 

No matter where Ohio finishes in the final MAC standings, if Antle can stay on the pace he is currently on, there should be no question who gets the MAC Player of the Year award. 


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