POINT BORO — After two All-American years at Ocean County College [OCC], third baseman Kyle Lauria was announced as the 2019 Spalding NJCAA [National Junior College Athletic Association] Defensive Player of the Year on June 25.
The former Point Boro Panther led the Vikings in all offensive categories his freshman and sophomore years but truly broke out defensively in 2019, sporting a 1.000 fielding percentage on 183 total chances.
“It’s shocking and a surreal moment because you never know what you’re capable of. I didn’t know I was capable of this,” Lauria said.
“This is my 36th year coaching junior college baseball and he’s probably the most talented player I’ve ever had,” Ocean County College head coach Ed McRae added. “He’s also a two-time All-American … and to have somebody win both awards is not very common. I’m excited for him, you’re not done hearing about him, baseball wise.”
During his senior year of high school, Lauria was undecided on his major and his baseball career, which led him to stay home and attend OCC. Still unsure if he would step on a diamond again, Lauria settled on his decision, making a last-minute choice to play two months before the school year began.
“Deciding to play was the best decision of my life,” Lauria said. “People need to take advantage of this time in their lives because they never know what can happen. We only get this chance once in our lives.”
By the end of his first year, he led the Vikings to a 27-19 season that ended in the first round of the NJCAA Region XIX Playoffs after winning the play-in game.
With a .454 batting average, Lauria led the Vikings in multiple categories including a .506 on-base percentage and a .953 fielding percentage off 190 total chances. He also picked up NJCAA Region XIX First Team All-Region honors and NJCAA DIII Baseball All-American honors.
Lauria then ended 2019 with a .459 batting average and a .526 on-base percentage, once again leading the Vikings. He also connected for 61 hits, scored 48 runs and was responsible for 40 RBI. Defensively the sophomore finished with a 1.000 field percentage, 56 putouts and 127 assists.
In his final stint at OCC, Lauria led the Vikings to a 23-18 year, that also ended in the first round of the NJCAA Region XIX Playoffs.
However, his sophomore campaign led to more well-deserved accolades including, his second NJCAA Division III Baseball All-American honor, NJCAA ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Award, NJCAA Region XIX First Team All-Region and the NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year.
“He led our team in every category both years but to make All-American in your first year and then come back for a second, you’re kind of a marked man,” McRae said. “This year, people tried to throw around him. To have the offensive production he did even with that, puts into perspective what kind of player he is.”
This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.