"Backs" All-Americans

(2002 - Present)

When you've learned to believe in yourself, there's no telling how good a player you can be.  That's because you have the mental edge.  

Rod Carew

  • Name:  Phillip Britton

  • Hometown:  Olney, IL
  • High School:  East Richland (Olney)
  • Position:  C
  • College:  Olney Central College
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2003
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2004-2005 JUCO All-American

Player Bio:  Phillip was a standout catcher at East Richland (Olney), IL High School.  He played with the "Backs" during the 2003 summer season.  He earned back-to-back JUCO All-American honors while playing under coach Dennis Conley at Olney Central College.  Phillip wrapped up his career at Olney Central ranking third all-time in doubles (41), second all-time in triples (11), and third all-time in R.B.I.'s with 144.  Phillip signed with the University of Kentucky after his sophomore season.  He opted to sign with the Atlanta Braves after being drafted in the 36th round of the 2005 MLB draft.  Phillip spent seven seasons playing professionally with the Braves and Orioles.  He reached as high as AAA.  Phillip wrapped up his professional career with the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League in 2011.

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  • Name:  Neil Holland

  • Hometown:  Owensboro, KY
  • High School:  Owensboro Catholic
  • Position:  RHP
  • College:  University of Louisville
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2006-2007
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2010 First-Team All-American NCBWA
  • 2010 Third-Team All-American Baseball America
  • 2010 Third-Team All-American Collegiate Baseball

Player Bio:  (Per Louisville Bio) High School: Posted a 31-6 record on the hill with 12 saves and 260 strikeouts in his prep career, earning First Team All-State as a senior. A three-time All-Region and All-District selection, Holland played for the East vs. West junior All-Star team. The Aces won the All A State Championship in 2005 and 2007 and he was named to the All-Tournament team. State runner-up in `06. A Third Team All-State receiver, lettering four times in football and twice in swimming. A three-time academic All-State selection. Batted .455 as a junior, while going 10-2 on the hill with a 1.33 ERA. Was 8-2 with an 0.89 ERA and 98 strikeouts his senior season. His biggest thrill in athletics was playing football in the state championship game at Louisville's Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

College Bio:  Holland, a right-handed pitcher from Owensboro, Ky., finished the 2010 season ranked second in the nation with 17 saves to go along with an 8-1 record. In 56.1 innings of relief this season, the First Team All-BIG EAST selection had a 2.08 ERA and 59 strikeouts while opposing batters hit just .160 against him. Holland, who was also named a First Team All-American by the NCBWA, a Third Team All-American by Baseball America and a Louisville Slugger Third Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball newspaper, was selected in the 11th Round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Washington Nationals.  He was among five players named as finalists for the 2010 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award.

Neil is currently pitching in the Washington National organization where he has reached as high as AAA.  He is currently pitching for the AA Harrisburg Senators.  Neil was named to the 2014 Eastern League All-Star team.  

  • Name:  Brad Vance

  • Hometown:  Louisville, KY
  • High School:  Holy Cross
  • Position:  SS
  • College:  University of Southern Indiana
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2007
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2012 Pre-Season All-American Collegiate Baseball

Player Bio:  (Per U.S.I. Website)  College:  Named 2012 preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball...also earned preseason All-Midwest Region honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association..slowed by injuries to just 30 games at shortstop...hit a team-best  and career-best .351...also drove in 21 RBI and finished his career ranked second all-time at USI...set the USI career-record for doubles after posting 11 this season.  In 2011, Brad started all 56 games, 51 as the shortstop...was second on the team with a .314 batting average and led the team for a second straight year with 54 RBIs...named first-team All-GLVC and first-team All-Midwest Region by the NCBWA...named second-team All-Midwest Region and earned a Gold Glove from the ABCA...had a career-high four hits against Bellarmine University...drove in a career-best four RBIs three times...also stole 16 bases...ranks third all-time at USI in doubles and RBIs...tied the USI single-game record for doubles with three against Kentucky Wesleyan College.  In 2010, Brad was named the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Most Valuable Player after hitting .407 with nine runs scored, three doubles, three home runs, and 12 RBIs...named to the NCAA II National Championship Series All-Tournament team...drove in three of USI's six runs in the national championship game and set an Eagles single-season record with 70 RBIs overall...finished the season hitting .278 with 59 runs scored, 20 doubles, three triples, and 10 home runs...had a season-high three hits five times...tied a career-high four RBIs three times...had a team-high 17 multi-RBI games...had 16 multi-hit games...had the team's fourth longest hitting streak of the season (11 games).  In 2009, he started and played in 57 of 58 games at second base in his first full season with the Eagles...batted .295 with 29 runs scored and 35 RBIs...had 12 doubles and two home runs...had a career-best four hits in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional win over Ashland University and four RBIs against Quincy University...had 14 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI contests...had a season-high six game hitting streak.  He red-shirted in 2008.

  • Name:  Derek Self

  • Hometown:  Cave City, KY
  • High School:  Caverna
  • Position:  RHP
  • College:  University of Louisville
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2008
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2009 Freshman All-American Louisville Slugger

Player Bio:  Earned 2009 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors after going 7-0 overall with one save and a 3.88 ERA in his first season as a Cardinal. Named to AD Honor Roll and a BIG EAST Academic All-Star.  In 2010, Was 7-0 to take his career mark to 14-0 during his sophomore season. Finished with a 4.52 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 61.2 innings of work.  In 2011, Derek was selected in the 27th Round (826th overall) of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Oakland A's. Went 3-3 with one save, a 2.26 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 75.2 innings pitched, including six starts.  In 2012, Derek had a team-leading seven saves to go with a 2-2 record and a 3.41 ERA in 26 relief appearances and 31.2 innings pitched.  He was selected in the 9th Round (294th overall) of 2012 MLB Draft by Washington Nationals.  He was named a 2012 Third-Team All-BIG EAST performer and was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List.  Closed his career ranked fourth in school history in pitching appearances at 96, fifth in wins at 19, seventh in ERA at 3.43 and tied for 10th in saves at nine.  Derek is currently pitching for the Washington Nationals AA affiliate Harrisburg Senators with fellow "Back" Neil Holland.

  • Name:  Justin Amlung

  • Hometown:  Louisville, KY
  • High School:  St. Xavier
  • Position:  RHP
  • College:  University of Louisville
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2008
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2012 Third-Team Louisville Slugger All-America
  • 2012 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America
  • 2012 NCBWA Preaseason All-America

Player Bio:  Justin completed career at Louisville with a 24-8 record on the mound in three collegiate seasons with a 2.77 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 279.1 innings pitched. Departs the program ranked second in career wins and ERA, third in strikeouts, tied for fourth in starts (41) and sixth in innings pitched.  He was selected in the 12th round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs.  In 2012, Justin earned Louisville Slugger All-America honors, was BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year and earned First Team All-BIG EAST accolades. He was selected to the 2012 Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List.  In 2011, He finished 9-4 with a 2.31 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 16 starts and 109.0 innings pitched.  In 2011, he finished with a 3-1 record, a 1.76 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched and seven starts while be selected as an All-Star for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League.  Justin was selected in the 39th Round (1195th overall) of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He earned First Team All-BIG EAST honors while going 10-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 15 starts and 105.0 innings pitched.  

  • Name:  Kolbrin Vitek

  • Hometown:  Bryan, OH
  • Position:  3B
  • High School / College:  Ball State University
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2007
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2010 First-Team All-American Louisville Slugger
  • 2010 First-Team All-American ABCA
  • 2010 Second-Team All-American Baseball America
  • 2010 Second-Team All-American Ping Baseball
  • 2009 Honorable-Mention All-American Ping Baseball

Player Bio: In 2010, Kolbrin was drafted in the first round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Boston Red Sox with the 20th overall pick ... Named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year ... Louisville Slugger First Team All-America at the utility position ... ABCA First Team All-America at the utlity position ... Baseball America Second Team All-America at utility position ... Second Team All-America by Ping!Baseball ... First Team All-MAC selection ... Named to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List for the top player in the nation ... Named one of three finalists for the John Olerud Two-Way Player Award, given to the nation's top two-way player ... Led the Cardinals with a .361 batting average at the plate while also leading the team with a 3.28 ERA as a weekend starter ... Led the MAC with a 3.28 ERA on the year in a team-high 79.2 innings of work ... Tallied a team-high 84 hits and scored a MAC-high 73 runs in 58 games played ... Led the team with 20 doubles, 17 home runs and 68 RBI while posting a team-high .691 slugging percentage and a .445 on-base percentage ... Posted 16 stolen bases which was second on the team ... Recorded 26 multilpe-hit games on the year and 20 multiple-RBI games ... Owned a 3-4 record on the mound with three saves ... Made 17 appearances, including 13 starts on the mound .... Struck out 60 batters while only walking 20 and limited opponents to a .252 batting average.  In 2009, Kolbrin was named to the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award Watch List by the Collegiate Baseball Foundation prior to the season ... Named Honorable Mention All-Ping!Baseball ... Started in 50 games for the Cardinals to earn his second letter ... Played third base and designated hitter when he did not start on the mound ... Named First Team All-Mid-American Conference at the At-Large/Utility position ... Second on the team with a .389 batting average as he tallied 81 hits ... Led the Cardinals and was second in the MAC with a .736 slugging percentage ... Led the team with 13 home runs, 25 doubles and 67 RBI ... His 25 doubles tied the Ball State single-season record and led the MAC ... He was fourth in NCAA Division I in doubles per game at 0.50 ... Finished second in the MAC in RBI and his 67 RBI was fifth most in a single-season in Ball State history ... Recorded 153 total bases on the year to finish fifth all-time in BSU history for a season.  In 2008, Kolbrin played in 34 games in the field with 34 starts to earn his first letter ... Started 31 games as designated hitter and three games at first base ... Also made 13 starts on the mound, primarily as the Sunday starter ... Named First Team Freshman All-America by Collegiate Baseball ... Posted a 6-1 record on the mound in his 13 starts ... Recorded a 5.65 ERA in 65.1 innings of work ... Worked the second most innings on the team on the hill ... Posted a team-high 69 strikeouts while allowing walking 19 batters

  • Name:  Stephen Shackleford

  • Hometown:  Louisville, KY
  • Position:  RHP
  • College:  Savannah College of Art & Design
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2007
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2010 Second-Team All-American

Player Bio:  Savannah College of Art and Design pitcher Stephen Shackleford was named to the 2010 NAIA All-America second team.  Shackleford, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior right-handed pitcher from Louisville, Ky., went 12-3 with a 2.50 ERA for the season. The first-team All-The Sun Conference performer appeared in 20 games – 17 starts – as he threw 12 complete games and had a save. In 100 2/3 innings this season, he limited opponents to just 91 hits (.239 batting average) and struck out 108.  Stephen was drafted in the 35th round of the 2010 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants.  He is currently pitching for the Jackson Generals.  The Generals are the Seattle Mariners AA affiliate.

  • Name:  Justin Hageman

  • Hometown:  Hopkinsville, KY
  • Position:  RHP
  • College:  Western Kentucky University
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2008-2010
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2011 College Freshman All-American

Player Bio:  Justin was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman College All-American in 2009.  He was Named the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year after finishing the season with an 8-5 record...Ranked among the top 10 in the league in ERA (3.22), wins (8), innings pitched (100.2), strikeouts (85) and opponent batting average (.256)...Went 6-2 in league games with 60 strikeouts and only 18 walks...Led the SBC with 30 batters struck out looking as a freshman.  As a senior, Hageman was recognized as one of three league pitchers on the All-Sun Belt Conference first team after going 6-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 2014. All six of Hageman’s wins came in league play and six of his eight quality starts came against Sun Belt Conference foes. Hageman’s 2.87 ERA was the fourth lowest among qualifying pitchers in the league and he also ranked among the league leaders in opposing batting average (.248), runs allowed (37), earned runs allowed (28), wins (6), strikeouts (62) and innings pitched (87.2).  Hageman’s signature victory of the season came at No. 1 Louisiana-Lafayette, as he stifled the nation’s fourth-ranked offense to three runs over seven innings. He struck out three and was solid in front of a WKU offense that handed the Cajuns their worst loss of the season. Hageman was one of two league pitchers to record a quality start against Louisiana-Lafayette this season.

  • Name:  Stewart Ijames

  • Hometown:  Owensboro, KY
  • Position:  OF
  • College:  University of Louisville
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2005&2007
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2008 College Freshman All-American

Player Bio:  Career: Completed career as a Cardinal ranked second in RBI with 212, second in at-bats with 828, third in games played with 239, fifth in hits with 256, sixth in home runs with 45 and seventh in doubles with 52.  Named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2010.  In 2012, Stewart earned Second Team All-BIG EAST honors. Hit .259 with team-leading 12 home runs, team-high 65 RBI, 15 doubles and 48 runs scored in 63 games.  In 2011, he was named Second Team All-BIG EAST for the second straight season. Was second on the team with 11 home runs and 45 RBI while hitting .247 in 58 games.  In 2010, Stewart was selected in the 29th Round (895th overall) of 2010 MLB Draft by New York Yankees. Earned Second Team All-BIG EAST Conference honors. Finished third on the team with 14 home runs and hit .324 overall with 63 RBI while starting 63 games in the Cardinals' outfield.  Red-shirted in 2009 due to injury.  In 2008, he was named Third Team All-BIG EAST and Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball and PING!Baseball after batting .351 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 39 RBI.  Stewart is currently playing in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization with their Rookie affiliate Missoula Osprey.

  • Name:  Sean Godfrey

  • Hometown:  New Albany, IN
  • Position:  OF
  • College:  Ball State University
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2009
  • All-American Honors:
  • Louisville Slugger Third-Team College All-American

Player Bio:  Ball State senior outfielder Sean Godfrey has been named to the 2014 Louisville Slugger All-America Third Team as chosen by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.  “Sean Godfrey had one of the greatest offensive seasons in Ball State history,” Cardinals’ head coach Rich Maloney said.  “Being recognized as an All-American puts him in a very select group and this honor is very well deserved.  Sean's dedication and hard work has paid off.  We could not be happier for him.”  The 2014 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, Godfrey batted .333 in 237 at-bats for the Cardinals in 2014 with nine home runs, 22 doubles and 57 runs-batted-in.  He ranked nationally in doubles (9th), runs-batted-in (17th), total bases (30th with 128) and hits (45th with 79). (Per Ball State website.)

  • Name:  Kyle McHugh

  • Hometown:  Custer, WI
  • Position:  1B
  • College Wisconsin Stevens-Pont 
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2010
  • All-American Honors:
  • First-Team Division III All-American

Player Bio:  Kyle was named 2014 First-Team Division III All-American.  McHugh, a First Team All-Midwest Region and First Team All-WIAC selection, started all 45 games for the Pointers this season and led the team in hits (64), doubles (24), RBI (61), total bases (114) and slugging percentage (.655) and his .360 batting average was second on the team. Also a First Team All-WIAC selection, the junior's 24 doubles were tied for the most in the country and tied a single-season school record. McHugh was also tied for fourth in the nation in RBI and tied for 14th in home runs.

  • Name:  Mark Giesler

  • Hometown:  Jasper, IN
  • Position:  RHP/1B
  • College:  Dayton University
  • "Backs" Baseball: 2013
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2013 Max-Preps High School All-American

Player Bio:  Mark was named to the 2013 Max Prep Medium School High School All-American Team.  Mark has also named First-Team 3A All-State at Jasper High School where he finished the year with a .364 AVG, 110 AB, 40 hits, 37 runs, 13 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 46 RBI, and 8-2 record, 2.20 ERA, 66.1 IP, 53 hits, 20 BB, 50 K on the mound.

  • Name:  Dustin Cartas

  • Hometown:  Russellville, KY
  • Position:  C
  • College:  Murray State University
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2013
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2013 First-Team High School All-American

Player Bio:  Dustin was named a Louisville Slugger All-American and first-team all-state selection after hitting .450 with six home runs and 38 RBIs as a senior...four-time All-District 13 selection...hit over .400 all four years of high school...posted career-high 11 home runs and 40 RBIs as a freshman...added eight home runs and 35 RBIs as a sophomore.

  • Name:  Tyler Choate

  • Hometown:  Carmi, IL
  • Position:  RHP/UT
  • College:  University of Southern Indiana
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2004
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2011 Daktronics Honorable-Mention Division II All-American

Courtesy of University of Southern Indiana website;

2011: Named honorable mention All-American by Daktronics...also named first-team All-Midwest Regon by Daktronics, NCWBA, and ABCA...earned Academic All-GLVCand GLVC Council of Presidents' Academic Excellence Award honors...led USI with a .342 batting average and seven home runs...was second on the team with 49 RBIs...named first-team All-GLVC...also appeared in 10 games on the mound for the Eagles, posting a 6-1 record and a 2.37 ERA before suffering an elbow injury.

2010: Named Academic All-GLVC...played in nine games for the Eagles before redshirting with an elbow injury...was hitting .345 and had a 3-1 record before ending the season early.

2009: Named Daktronics first team All-Region and second team All-GLVC as a utility player...saw action as a pitcher, designated hitter, third baseman, and first baseman...USI's number one starter, finishing the season with a 7-3 overall record with a 3.22 ERA in 16 appearances and 15 starts...struck out a career-high 11 batters against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside...led the Screaming Eagles with 76 strike outs...completed the season with 100.2 innings of work, just short of the USI single-season record...sparked the top third of the USI line-up, completing the season with a team-best 10 home runs and ranked second on the team with a .357 batting average...hit a walk-off home run in the win over Northern Kentucky University in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional...also had 52 runs scored, 15 doubles, four triples, and 37 RBIs...had a season-best four hits in a game three times and five RBIs in the win over the University of Missouri-St. Louis...had a two-home run game at Lewis University...listed as a "Newcomer to Watch" by Collegiate Baseball Magazine and the American Baseball Coaches Association.

HIGH SCHOOL: A four-time All-Conference honoree and a three-time league Most Valuable Player in baseball at Carmi-White County High School (Carmi, Illinois)...hit .411 or better each of his four seasons at CWHS with 19 career home runs...named All-State as a senior and was 42nd-best prospect in the state by the Illinois Prep Baseball Magazine.


  • Name:  Tyler Ward

  • Hometown:  Lincoln City, IN
  • Position:  RHP
  • College:  Indiana State University
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2014 Fall 2015 Summer
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2016 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American




Indiana State freshman pitcher Tyler Ward has been named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team, announced by the organization on Wednesday.  The right-hander from Santa Claus, Ind. becomes the 12th player in school history to pick up the honor and the first since Ryan Keafabber in 2014.  Ward went 6-5 in his rookie season with the Sycamores, holding a 3.81 ERA with a save and 40 strikeouts. He earned 12 starts in 2016 and made 18 total appearances on the mound for ISU, who finished the season 35-21 overall and second in the Missouri Valley Conference.  He went a season-long eight innings in Indiana State's 3-2 win over Illinois State where he struck out five. He fanned a season-high six in a win over Bradley on May 14 and picked up the start in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament matchup versus Missouri State.

  • Name:  Easton McGee

  • Hometown:  Hopkinsville, KY
  • Position:  RHP
  • College: University of Kentucky
  • "Backs" Baseball:  2014-2016
  • All-American Honors:
  • 2016 Max-Preps High School 2nd-Team All-American




Honors: National High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Upper Midwest Region Team... American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-Region 1 Team... American Family Insurance All-USA Kentucky Player of the Year... Kentucky Baseball Coaches Association State Player of the Year... Tampa Bay Rays draft pick at No. 120.