Lawrence outfields celebrate together on the field.
Lawrence's Jacob Charon (23) and Parker Knoll (17) celebrate with Edan Perez (11) after Perez homered in a victory over Ripon. (Photo by Paul Wilke)

The nickname wouldn't have worked until Edan Perez discovered a bottle of hair dye. Perez, the lone brunette in the group of starting Lawrence University outfielders, dyed his thick mane a golden hue this spring. Perez, Parker Knoll and Jacob Charon then went out and crushed opposing pitching all season.

To call them "The Blonde Bombers" seems an apt moniker. Lawrence's starting outfield has hit a combined .432 with 36 doubles, five triples, 42 home runs and 164 runs batted in over 39 games this spring to make them perhaps the most productive outfield in all of NCAA Division III.

Lawrence just wrapped up the Midwest Conference title, and the Vikings host the MWC Tournament on Friday and Saturday. The winner of the four-team, double-elimination tournament receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

"We've seen flashes of it from all three of us," said Knoll, a junior from Appleton and the center fielder. "We're finally all doing it together all the time. It's special that we're able to hit as well as we can at the same time. It's a lot of fun to be part of. I know if I mess up, there's like four guys behind me that will do as good or better job than I will. It's great to have that kind of firepower."

Lawrence hosts MWC Tournament: See details here

Charon, an All-American in 2022, leads the team and ranks second in all of NCAA Division III with a .493 batting average. He's pounded out 12 doubles, two triples, 14 homers and tied his own school record with 61 RBIs.

"I really dialed in indoors during the winter. I was struggling during the winter," said Charon, the senior right fielder. "We had our first games down in St. Louis and that didn't go as well as I wanted to. We came back and I started taking my reps off the machine a little more seriously. Intensity and focus, that's what I need to keep myself going. That started down in Florida."

Charon hit .533, homered four times and drove in 12 runs over nine games in Florida. He hit for the cycle and was chosen for the Team of the Week two weeks in a row. He hasn't let up since.

"I don't know if we've recognized how well we've been doing," said Perez, a junior left fielder who enjoyed a breakout season in 2022. "We're just doing what we have to do."

Perez is hitting .405 with 12 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs and 53 RBIs while making the transition from third base to the outfield.

"Last year, I was seeing beach balls out there," Perez said with a laugh. "This year has been pretty similar. It's on an upward trend."

Knoll makes its a trio of hitters batting over .400 with a .403 average this spring. He has 12 doubles, one triple, 15 homers and 50 RBIs to go with playing superb defense. Knoll has made multiple diving catches this season, and his speed allows him to run down what look to be doubles and turn them into outs.

"It's a lot of things coming together, but there's more that can be done, especially with power numbers. I would say I'm seeing it pretty well right now," said Knoll, who loves the to flash the leather. "It's really nice to be able to contribute to that side of the ball. I love doing it. If you get five or six or seven outs during the season that another team isn't going to get, that gives us a huge advantage."

It was no secret Lawrence had a talented group of outfielders returning this season. All three players have earned all-conference and all-region honors in the past but was this type of productivity expected?

"I thought definitely it was a possibility. These guys were making strides from last year to this year," said Lawrence head coach Chris Krepline, who has coached the Vikings to a school-record 30-9 record this season. "They are just even-keeled. I say it a lot, 'Don't ride the roller coaster.' They are just taking it as it happens."

The players have found ways to make themselves better as they adjust to various situations. As teams have tried to pitch around the red-hot Charon, he adjusts to teams staying away from his power by hitting the ball the opposite way. Perez said he has improved the way he sees the ball by playing catch with star pitcher Quinn Berglin, whose multiple release points and arm angles are a challenge for any hitter.

"I think that's something that has helped me a lot," said Perez, commenting on the "filthy" stuff from Berglin. "It's a thing where you've got to be loose. If you're seeing the ball that day, it's going to be a fun day."

Krepline added their extremely competitive nature powers them along as well.

"They walk to the plate with a very good approach. In their minds, they simplify things and ultimately, they're great competitors," said Krepline, adding they feed on the achievements of each other. "Eden sees Parker hit a bomb and Charon gets a base hit and then it's so what are you going to do on the next one?"

The Vikings celebrated wildly in 2022 when they won the MWC Tournament and claimed their first berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament since 1979. As much as the records and accolades are nice, there's no question what this season is about for this group of players.

"We had a taste of that two years ago, and the team thought it was a great success," Knoll said of the 2022 title. "I would never want to play in a conference tournament not at Whiting Field."

Winning the tournament is goal No. 1 but just getting to the NCAA regional isn't enough. The Vikings want to win games at the regional, and that's never been done in program history.

"We've been working hard for it, early mornings in the winter and late nights, all the work in the fall and in the spring," Knoll said. "This is what we've worked for. This is definitely the goal, for sure."