Baseball MVP: Ethan O’Donnell
By Brea Lassek
After starting in 33 games as a first-year and making his way onto the All Big-Ten Freshman Team, Ethan O’Donnell doubled down for his second year as a Wildcat, breaking the program’s season record for most two-baggers with 24 and being named to the All-Big Ten Second Team.
While not leading the team in batting average or on-base percentage– those titles belong to first-year Patrick Herrera– O’Donnell’s consistency throughout the season earns him the WNUR Sports Baseball MVP.
Following a first-year campaign where he batted .248, O’Donnell played a more prominent offensive role his sophomore year, finishing with 58 hits, 39 RBIs, 10 home runs and a .320 batting average. In the leadoff spot for most of the season, O’Donnell boasted a .410 on-base percentage.
The NU outfielder received national attention for his season-defining performance in four games versus Southern Illinois and Butler. Along with being named Big Ten Player of the Week, O’Donnell was awarded Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week along with fellow Wildcat Jay Beshears– the first set of teammates to ever earn the honor together. Over that weekend, O’Donnell logged a 1.333 slugging percentage and .524 on-base percentage, collecting eight hits and 13 RBIs to lead Northwestern to its seventh consecutive victory at the time. O’Donnell hit four home runs during the series, including a go-ahead grand slam on his birthday.
After that weekend, O’Donnell remained a key player in the Wildcats’ lineup, going on a nine-game on-base streak. He also finished the season with a six-game hitting streak, including a 4-for-13 series performance against Minnesota.
O’Donnell also provided a consistent presence defensively for the ‘Cats, starting most games in center field and posting a .972 fielding percentage. Prior to the season, the sophomore was named onto D1 Baseball’s top 100 outfielders list at no. 71 and proved his defensive talents with 100 putouts.
O’Donnell recently announced his decision to transfer to the University of Virginia to continue his career– just one of many key departures for the ‘Cats. Friday night starter and All Big Ten Freshman Team honoree Sean Sullivan will head to Wake Forest in the fall, and Herrera announced his transfer to the University of Kentucky.
With so many uncertainties and absences heading into the 2022-2023 season, newly announced head coach Jim Foster will have his work cut out for him.