CANTON  Powered by a roster comprised largely of local players, the Malone baseball team has been tabbed for the Team Academic Excellence Award from the American Baseball Coaches Association.

With four players from Jackson - Christian Specht, Nate Cobb, Mike Mathieu and Zach Mottice - and one each from Manchester (Chandler Stahl) and Hoover (Ryan Sarbaugh) on the roster, the Pioneers were selected as one of just 34 NCAA Division II programs to receive the honor, which recognizes teams that posted a combined 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale during the 2016-17 academic year. In order to be eligible, the team must be coached by an ABCA member.

Malone, which posted an impressive 3.126 grade point average, was the only Great Midwest Athletic Conference team selected for the award and were also one of only three NCAA Division II institutions from the state of Ohio that earned the distinction.

Eight Pioneer baseball players were previously named to the Great Midwest Academic All-Conference Team, including Stahl (Manchester H.S.), Ed Williams (Medina Highland H.S.), Clyde Yoder (Hiland H.S.) and Jordan Yoder (Hiland H.S.).

In their first season of G-MAC play, the Pioneers wrapped up their 2017 campaign with a 35-18 record and a runner-up finish at the Great Midwest postseason tournament.