Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – Seniors Landon Packard and Jacob Gleichman are the recipients of the 2017 O.T. Harstad Most Valuable Player Award for their contributions to the Pacific Lutheran University baseball program.
The honor, established by long-time PLU donor and alumnus Ted Johnson in 2016, is named for the first PLU student to reach the major leagues in any sport in school history. The son of PLU founder, Bjug, Harstad made 32 appearances for the Cleveland Indians in 1915 and retired with a 3.40 earned run average. He was inducted into the PLU Hall of Fame posthumously in 2016.
"It's an award that the players vote on," Head Coach Nolan Soete said. "It represents the best pitcher and best position player on the team. I want it to be known as the most prestigious individual award you can win in our program."
Packard took home the offensive side of the award. The second basemen was a career .329 hitter, finishing with 169 hits, 34 doubles, seven triples and 11 home runs. He drove in 103 runs in four years as a Lute. His on base percentage was .397, and he slugged to a clip of .487.
Packard undoubtedly had his best year as a Lute in his senior season. He led the team batting average (.377), triples (four), home runs (seven), runs batted in (46), and ranked second in runs scored (31). He had an on base percentage of .435 while slugging an incredible .623. Packard earned All-West Region honors by both the American Baseball Coaches Association and D3Baseball.com and was a First Team All-Northwest Conference selection in 2017.
"It's an honor," Packard said. "With it being an award that is new to the program, it's an awesome feeling to know that my teammates and coaches thought that I did enough this season to win it. It's pretty cool."
A Second Team All-NWC selection, Gleichman was recognized for his efforts on the mound for the Lutes. He was the team's ace, going 5-1 in the 12 games he started on the mound. He pitched to a 3.30 earned run averaging in 76 1/3 innings of work. He struck out 38 batters, while allowing just 15 walks.
"It's a true honor," Gleichman said. "It's extra special because my teammates are the ones who voted me in, and that really means something. It's pretty neat that the award has only been around for two seasons now. Being one of the very first winners for a trophy that will last for years is awesome and I am thankful for the nomination."
The duo are the second to receive the award, and have etched their name in the history alongside the inaugural winners Cory Nelson and Drew Oord.
The Lutes finished the 2017 season with a 25-14 overall record and a 17-7 mark in Northwest Conference play. Pacific Lutheran boasted a 14-2 record on the home turf at PLU Field, including a three-game sweep of eventual national champion California Lutheran University.