Red Hawks’ Russ named NJCAA Player of the Week

Red Hawks’ Russ named NJCAA Player of the Week

HICKORY, N.C. — For the first time in program history, the Catawba Valley Community College baseball team has back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) weekly award winners.

Red Hawks first baseman Kyran Russ was named the NJCAA Div. II Player of the Week on Wednesday — one week after Catawba Valley's Julian Smith was named NJCAA Div. II Pitcher of the Week.

Russ was first informed of his Player of the Week honor by Catawba Valley head baseball coach Paul Rozzelle during practice on Wednesday.

"I was just surprised," Russ said of finding out he was selected Player of the Week. "Honestly, it's just a blessing to know that the hard work is paying off and God is showing His light in me. I've been working really hard on staying back and hitting the other way to the field."

Russ drove in five RBI, including two home runs, and he tallied 12 total bases in the three games he played in last week — all wins against USC Union.

He also led the Red Hawks with an impressive 1.714 slugging percentage.

"I'm very proud of Kyran and the work he has put in," Rozzelle said. "It has been a long road, but watching a young man fail, then learn, and ultimately grow is a coach's dream. (Catawba Valley assistant) coach (Colby) Dishmond has put in a lot of time with our players, and Kyran has really benefitted."

Russ is the first position player to win NJCAA Player of the Week since Craig Zalewa did so on Feb. 15-21, 2016.

"We have had a whole heck of a lot of good players here the last nine years, and I enjoy when they have success and for us to have guys in back-to-back weeks get honored is just special for me and anybody associated with our family," Rozzelle said. "What makes it even better is I know that those two want team success above anything else and as a coach, I couldn't be happier."

Russ and the Red Hawks (10-4) return to the diamond on Saturday for a doubleheader against Louisburg College at Henkel-Alley Field at the American Legion Fairgrounds. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. and admission is free.