Nate Mullins kept his goals modest coming into his first season with the Bellevue University baseball team.
“I really exceeded my expectations,” Mullins said. “I just wanted to do my best and help the team.”
All Mullins did during his first season with Bellevue was lead the team in most offensive categories as the Bruins compiled a 45-10-1 record and qualified for the NAIA national tournament.
The accolades came at season's end. Not only was the Bellevue junior third baseman named first-team all-conference, he was named a first-team NAIA All-American.
“It was an honor. It shows all the hard work I've been putting in the past year,” Mullins said of the All-America honor. “Hard work pays off.”
Mullins, who is the captain of The World-Herald's NAIA all-state baseball team, led Bellevue in batting average (.387), home runs (9), hits (67) and tied Brian Embery for the lead in RBIs (50). He was the only Bruin with a slugging percentage better than .500 (.613).
Coaches across the state voted for the team.
“We knew we were getting a good player, getting a good hitter,'' Bellevue coach Duane Monlux said. “He hits for average, hits for power and drives in runs. He's a good middle-of-the-order hitter.
“He had an outstanding season. What set him apart was how consistent he was. A lot of guys have hot streaks and then go cold for a while, but he was consistent.”
Mullins, who hit safely in 44 of Bellevue's 56 games, put together a 14-game hitting streak during the Bruins' 20-game win streak midway through the season.
Mullins, who also was named to the MCAC Gold Glove team for his work at third base, hopes to improve his numbers next spring as a senior. Monlux said it will be hard to repeat, but added that Mullins has the right frame of mind.
“He's got a good head on his shoulders,” Monlux said. “He practices hard, plays hard and expects to be good.”
Mullins played his first two collegiate seasons at Everett Community College in his home state of Washington, and headed back home last weekend. He'll play for Everett in a summer collegiate league in July.
He hopes that prepares him for an even better spring in 2014.
“I definitely want to improve my fielding. I had a good season, but I know I could get better at that,” Mullins said. “And if I don't get a hit, I want to make sure I always have a quality at-bat or make a productive out.”
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