Blue Hens first baseman Jimmy Yezzo became the first University of Delaware baseball player to be named the Bill Brooks Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and five other UD team members earned spots on the all-conference teams that were announced at the CAA Baseball Awards banquet Tuesday night.
In addition to being CAA Player of the Year, Yezzo was joined by senior outfielder Ferdinand on the All-CAA first team while junior pitcher Chad Kuhl and sophomore shortstop Brock Niggebrugge were selected to the All-CAA second team. Rounding out the conference honors were UD senior second baseman D.J. Long and senior relief pitcher Stephen Richter, who were All-CAA third team selections.
The selections were based on votes from the coaching staffs of the 11 CAA schools.
The banquet was held on the eve of the 2013 CAA Baseball Championships, which begin on Wednesday at James Madison’s Veteran’s Memorial Park in Harrisonburg, Va. The double-elimination tournament will feature #1 UNCW, #2 William & Mary, #3 Delaware, #4 Towson, #5 Northeastern and #6 James Madison. Delaware will take on James Madison in the opening round at 3:30 p.m.
Yezzo, a junior from Cherry Hill, N.J. (Bishop Eustace High School), becomes the first Blue Hen to earn conference Player of the Year honors since joining the CAA in 2001. He leads the CAA and ranks among the top 10 in NCAA Division I in batting average (.406/6th), hits (91/2nd), doubles (27/1st), RBI’s (63/10th), total bases (161/2nd) and slugging percentage (.719/4th), and is second in the league with 13 home runs. Earlier this season he had a streak of 44 consecutive games reaching base, which was the longest in the country.
Yezzo also excelled defensively, committing just one error in 499 chances at first base. He started all 53 games for the Hens and led the CAA in five offensive categories - batting average (.406), RBI (63), doubles (27), total bases (161), slugging percentage (.719). The 6-foot first baseman was recently named one of the 35 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy as the nation’s top player.
Ferdinand, a senior from Bensalem, Pa. (Archbishop Ryan HS), started in 52 games for the Blue Hens this season and led the CAA with 14 home runs. One of two senior captains, he was second on the team with a .353 batting average, 59 RBI and a .677 slugging percentage. He was named Louisville Slugger Co-National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball Newspapers in addition to CAA Player of the Week on May 20.
Kuhl, a junior from Middletown, Del. (Middletown HS), was the ace of the Blue Hens pitching staff with a 10-2 record to go along with a 3.53 ERA and 76 strikeout 14 starts. The 6-3 right-hander is one of 24 pitchers in the country to achieve double-digit wins to go along with two complete games, on Mar. 29 vs. Georgia State and May 10 at Northeastern. In addition he was named CAA Pitcher of the Week on May 13.
Niggebrugge, a sophomore from Bear, Del. (Caravel Academy), started all 53 games at shortstop for the Hens this season. The Brooks Wallace Award Watch List selection had the team’s longest hitting streak of the season at 13 games from Mar. 23 through Apr. 13, and finished his second season with the Hens with a .292 batting average, 13 doubles, 31 RBI, and 39 runs scored.
Long, a senior from Millsboro, Del. (Sussex Central HS), started all 53 games at second base and owns the nation’s longest active games-started streak at 215 games. He finished the regular season with a .271 batting average, 15 doubles, and eight home runs.
Richter, a senior from Wayne, Pa. (Conestoga HS), owns the Delaware career mark in saves with 20 for his career. The right-handed reliever went 4-0 with three saves and a 1.66 ERA. He collected 31 strikeouts in 15 appearances out of the bullpen for the Hens during his final season.
UNCW’s Mat Batts was named CAA Pitcher of the Year after he posted a 9-3 record and ranked sixth in the CAA with a 2.59 ERA. He leads the CAA and is ninth in Division I with 106 strikeouts in 100.2 innings of work and has fanned seven or more batters in nine consecutive starts.
Towson’s catcher Andrew Parker was tabbed CAA Defensive Player of the Year. He silenced opponents’ running games by throwing out 26 of 49 attempted base stealers. Parker had a stellar .994 fielding percentage with just two errors in 307 chances.
CAA Rookie of the Year honors went to George Mason’s Josh Merrigan, who led all CAA freshmen in batting (.353), hits (84), runs scored (52), RBI (36), total bases (121), and stolen bases (12) this season.
The CAA selected Co-Coaches of the Year in William & Mary’s John Pinzino and UNCW’s Mark Scalf. Pinzino led the Tribe to one of the best years in school history and recorded a best-ever, second-place finish as its 17 CAA victories were a school record. Scalf received CAA Coach of the Year honors for the sixth time after guiding UNCW to its second straight regular-season conference title with an 18-8 mark.