November 29, 2005

Chris Valaika named to the Wallace Watch List by College Baseball Foundation

Nov. 29, 2005

LUBBOCK, Texas - Seven returning members of last season's CBF National Honors Team head up a list of 120 baseball student-athletes on the 2006 Wallace Watch released Monday by the College Baseball Foundation in Lubbock, TX. The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. The 2005 winner, third baseman Alex Gordon of Nebraska, has signed to play professionally for the Kansas City Royals.

Among the 120 names listed on the watch list was UCSB shortstop Chris Valaika. Valaika, a junior from Newhall, Calif., earned Freshman All-American and Second-team All Big West honors in his first season as a Gaucho before missing the majority of time last season due to injury.

Joining Valaika on the 2006 Wallace Watch from the Big West are Wes Roemer (Cal State Fullerton, P), Evan Longoria (Long Beach State, 3B), Blake Davis (Cal State Fullerton, SS), Brett Pill (Cal State Fullerton, 1B), Jared Hughes (Long Beach State, P), Justin Baum (Pacific, 3B).

The Wallace Watch will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May. Then the selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals at a press conference in Omaha. The finalists, their head coaches, and their parents will be invited to Lubbock, TX, for a schedule of special events tied to the award banquet, which will again be nationally televised by Fox Sports Network.

Dedicated to the memory of former Texas Tech shortstop and assistant coach, Wallace was a slick-fielding shortstop at Texas Tech from 1977 to 1980. A 4-year starter, he was named All-Southwest Conference and All-District Six his senior year when he led the Red Raiders to their first-ever appearance in the Southwest Conference Tournament. After playing two years in the Texas Rangers organization, he returned to Texas Tech and served as a graduate assistant and later as an assistant coach. In the summer of 1984 he was diagnosed with cancer and fought the disease courageously until his death on March 24, 1985, at age 27. The Plano, Texas, native was married to the former Sandy Arnold and they had one daughter, Lindsay Ryan.

The selection committee for the Wallace Award is comprised of a national panel of preeminent coaches, sports information directors, former winners and beat media who most closely follow the sport. Screening Committee members will evaluate the candidates and will continue their review throughout the entire baseball season. The list will expand and contract during the regular season and additional Wallace Watch candidates may be added as the season progresses. Voting for the three finalists and the Wallace Award winner will be conducted by confidential balloting, with totals tabulated by the J.W.Anderson & Associates accounting firm in Lubbock, TX.

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