Nesovic Named Big West Freshman Player of the Year, Six Other Gauchos Nab All-Conference Honors
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Designated hitter Robby Nesovic has been tabbed as the Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year, while a total of seven Gauchos garnered All-Big West honors, the league announced on Tuesday night.
Nesovic took home the award after breaking through as a freshman and leading the UCSB lineup with a .343 batting average. One of the most potent middle-of-the-order hitters in the conference, he ranked in the top-10 among Big West hitters in both batting average (eighth) and on-base percentage (.414, 10th).
Not just a contact hitter, Nesovic improved on his power numbers as the year went on, ranking third in home runs (three) and eighth in slugging percentage (.495) among Big West hitters in conference play.
Sophomore starting pitcher Austin Pettibone was named to the Second Team after one of the most solid campaigns by a Gaucho starter in recent years. His 110 innings pitched are the most by a UCSB pitcher since 2001, while his nine wins are the most since 2004. His best performance came in a 79-pitch complete game shutout against Sacramento State on Mar. 15, but he provided excellent performances all season long, as evidenced by the team's 11-4 record in his starts. This weekend, Pettibone has the chance to become the Gauchos' first 10-win pitcher since 2001.
Freshman closer Dylan Hecht was named to the Second Team as well after proving himself to be one of the most explosive back-end bullpen arms in the conference. After taking over the closer's role full time, Hecht led the Big West in saves (7) while ranking second in appearances (15). He gave up the fewest hits per nine innings (4.68) on the team, while striking out the most batters per nine (11.57).
Also making the Second Team was Woody Woodward, who primarily played second base, but brought value in his versatility, as the sophomore also saw time in the outfield and batted in seven different spots in the lineup. Woodward's .389 batting average in conference play ranked second among all Big West hitters. The Glendora, Calif. native also reached base in every game he started – a span of 44 games – until the penultimate game of the season, in which he left early due to an injury.
Rounding out UCSB's Second Teamers was junior Brandon Trinkwon, who ranked second on the team in multi-RBI games with 12 and led the team with runs with 40. The shortstop also played sparkling defense up the middle, pacing the conference with 199 assists and finishing with a .970 fielding percentage.
Newell and Morrow earned All-Conference honorable mentions alongside Nesovic, who was named to the team as both a DH and utility player.
Newell provided extended runs of offensive excellence, as the sophomore center fielder had two hitting streaks of at least a dozen games while reaching base in 33 straight games at one point. Newell was also pivotal in manufacturing runs for the Guachos, as he led the Big West with 11 sacrifice bunts while swiping 12 bags in just 13 attempts.
Junior Jackson Morrow was the last of UCSB's honorees, as the catcher terrorized Big West baserunners, leading the conference in both runners picked off (seven) and runners caught stealing (22). Morrow was also a valuable part of the bottom of the Gauchos lineup, ranking among the conference leaders in sac bunts (10) and hit by pitches (12) while providing occasional run-producing outbursts, as evidenced by his pair of four-RBI games.
The Gauchos will take on Texas A&M on Friday at noon in the first game of the Corvallis Regional of the NCAA Tournament, which will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.com and AM 1290. For more information on the postseason, including a tournament schedule and ticket information, click here.
For the full release on the Big West All-Conference Team, click here.