June 28, 2004
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - On Sunday, UC Santa Barbara shortstop Chris Valaika was named to the 22-player USA Baseball National Team roster by head coach Frank Cruz.
The American squad will compete in the Japan vs. USA Collegiate All-Star Series in Japan and the FISU II World University Games in Tainan, Taiwan beginning in July. Cruz paired the original 36-man USA Baseball National Team Trials Roster down to 22 after a four-game series against Canada in Durham, N.C., last week. Valiaka went 3-for-9 with a home run and four RBI in the series, swept by Team USA.
In 2004 Valaika enjoyed one of the best freshman campaigns in UCSB history, finishing among the top-five Gauchos in nine major offensive categories. His 77 hits led Santa Barbara and also broke Chris Malec's 2002 record of 75 hits by a freshman. The Newhall, Calif., native finished second on the team with a .347 average and second with seven home runs. His 119 total bases led the team and his 195 assists at shortstop was the most in the Big West Conference. Fr his accomplishments, He was named a Freshman All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, as well as the Big West Freshman of the Year.
Valaika is no stranger to international baseball. He helped Team USA earn a silver medal at the 2003 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic, hitting .385 with two home runs and a pair of doubles. Earlier in his career, Valiaka won a gold medal while playing with the Americans' 16-and-under squad at the 2001 World Games in Veracruz, Mexico.