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Nine Lightning Players Earn All-FCSL Honors

SANFORD, FL.- The Florida Collegiate Summer League announced its 2021 All-Florida League Teams on August 14th. Four members of the Leesburg Lightning were named to the first team, and five members of the Lightning earned second team honors.

First Team: 

CATCHER: Clay Stearns (Troy): Stearns had a terrific regular season, finishing second on the team with a .312 average and leading his team in on-base percentage (.449), slugging (.468), OPS (.917), doubles (7) and runs batted in (16). Stearns then exploded in the postseason, hitting .500 in 16 at-bats, including a pair of home runs and four runs batted in. Stearns registered three straight multi-hit games in the postseason, including a homer run in games two and three of the championship series, which earned him MVP honors.

OUTFIELD: Brett Kelly (UNC Greensboro): Kelly led the team and finished third in the FCSL in batting average in the regular season with a .338 mark. The all-star was a huge part of the Lightning’s offense...

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Nine Lightning Players Earn All-FCSL Honors

Gerry Kelly Earns Cy Young Award

In baseball, the Cy Young Award is usually reserved for starting pitchers. For a reliever to win it, the hurler has to have put together numbers that are good enough to outweigh the difference in innings thrown. The numbers that Gerry Kelly (Undecided) put up in the 2021 campaign were so ridiculous that there was no surprise when the league announced on Wednesday that the southpaw had been named the 2021 Cy Young Award winner. Kelly is the first relief pitcher to earn the award since David Litchfield (UCF) did so for the Altamonte Springs Scorpions in 2017, and is the first ever Lightning pitcher to earn the award.

Though multiple starting pitchers had strong cases for the Cy Young award, which is given to the best pitcher in baseball that season, Kelly’s dominance game in and game out ultimately earned him the award. In the regular season, the former Pasco Hernando State College product went 2-0 over 19 innings across 11 appearances. 

His numbers in the 2021 season were video...

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Gerry Kelly Earns Cy Young Award

Zach Henderson Named Reliever of the Year

As the season progressed, a clean inning by Zach Henderson (Valdosta State) became as certain as anything. Henderson was rewarded on Tuesday, when the Florida Collegiate Summer League officially announced that Henderson had been named the 2021 reliever of the year. Henderson is the first Leesburg pitcher to win the award since 2017, when Drew Peden (FAU) won the honor for the second year in a row.

Henderson was one of the best arms out of the bullpen all season, throwing just about 15 innings while not allowing a single earned run. Henderson was lights out each and every time he stepped onto the rubber, leading the league during the regular season in saves with four. Henderson also struck out more batters (11) than base runners allowed (10) all season. If Henderson pitched, Leesburg probably won, with the Lightning holding a stellar 11-2 record in games that Henderson pitched in.

The postseason brought more of the same for Henderson, as he struck out six of the eleven batters he...

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Zach Henderson Named Reliever of the Year

Rich Billings Named Manager of the Year

The Florida Collegiate Summer League officially announced on Monday night that Rich Billings had been earned Manager of the Year honors for the 2021 season. It's the first time that Billings earned the award.

Billings led what many considered the most complete team in the FCSL all season. Despite finishing second in the standings, the pitching staff, which was filled with returners from a success 2020 season, posted an FCSL-best in earned run average (3.24), WHIP (1.26), opposing batting average (.208) and opposing slugging percentage (.283). Offensively, the Leesburg bats woke up over the last three weeks of the season, with every category of the team’s slashing line falling within the top three of the league. 

For Billings, the past season was his ninth in Leesburg and seventh in a row, which have all been as the top dog in the dugout. Despite being the winningest coach in Lightning history and having assembled 20-win seasons in all but one, Billings’ teams had been unable to...

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Rich Billings Named Manager of the Year

Leesburg Captures First Championship in 11 Years

LEESBURG, Fla- After winning two championships in their first three years, the Leesburg Lightning fell into some hard times in the postseason, losing five consecutive championships games/series. After forcing a game three on Saturday night, they claimed the third Whiting Cup in franchise history on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs 9-1 in just seven innings.

The game before the game took place after the national anthem, with Blayne Huter (South Florida State) winning a standoff against two Diamond Dawgs players outside of their respective dugouts. Despite a nearly two-hour weather delay beforehand, the Lightning faithful had Pat Thomas Stadium rocking.

The team gave them reason to cheer in the first, with a Cam Hill (Georgia College & State) double and Robbie Scott (UNF) triple quickly opening the scoring. A throwing error allowed Scott to come home and make it 2-0 Leesburg.

The Lighting defense showed up in the second, with Naphis Llanos (Francis...

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Box Score

Leesburg Captures First Championship in 11 Years

Standings

Team W L PCT GB
Lightning 22 12 0.647 ---
River Rats 19 12 0.613 1.5
Diamond Dawgs 18 19 0.486 5.5
Squeeze 14 16 0.467 6
Suns 14 16 0.467 6
Snappers 9 21 0.300 11

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Batting Leaders

C Stearns
Name AVG
Stearns 0.344
Scott 0.333
Hill 0.280
Malloy 0.260
T Stapleton
Name HR
Stapleton 4
Scott 3
Stearns 3
Stubbs 3
R Scott
Name RBI
Scott 23
Stearns 20
Stubbs 17
Hill 16
C Malloy
Name SB
Malloy 17
Hill 15
Griffin 9
Hall 9

Pitching Leaders

C Bruns
Name ERA
Bruns 1.80
C Bruns
Name W
Bruns 3
Caba 3
Bradshaw 2
Kelley 2
D Madonna
Name K
Madonna 36
Kelly 34
Caba 29
Kelley 29
G Kelly
Name WHIP
Kelly 0.66
Henderson 0.70
Huter 1.04
Bradshaw 1.07