HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Five members of the University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors baseball team were named among the all-Big West honorees, as officials from the conference office announced the all-league honors on Wednesday morning. Among the group, four are seniors and one a freshman.
All five student-athletes received honorable mention recognition for the 'Bows, who tied fourth place in the final Big West standings – a new program high since joining the league. Three pitchers and two position players were named.
Senior shortstop Jacob Sheldon-Collins (Melbourne, Victoria) led the team and ranked fifth in the conference with a .349 batting average. He also topped the 'Bows in on-base percentage (.407) and stolen bases (6-8), logging team second-bests of nine doubles and 28 runs, as well as 23 RBI, while contributing to 23 double plays on defense. He finished the season as the 92nd toughest batter to strike out nationally. In addition, Sheldon-Collins tied for eighth in the Big West and ranked 94th in the NCAA with 10 sacrifice bunts.
Senior starting pitcher Kyle Von Ruden (Sacramento, Calif.) led the 'Bows with a 7-3 record, registering a 3.44 ERA in a Big West second-most 107.1 innings pitched. He tied for the fourth-most wins among Big West pitchers. The right-hander struck out 50 batters, limiting opponents to a .258 average, recording one shutout and tying for second in the league with two complete games. He registered a 2.38:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and ranked 94th nationally with 1.76 walks per nine innings.
Middle reliever Cody Culp (Anacortes, Wash.) finished the season with 31 appearances, the most in the coach Mike Trapasso era, the third most in a single UH season and the highest count since 1987. The senior right-hander ended the year with a 3-1 record, a 2.16 ERA and five saves in 50 innings. He led the staff with a 7.4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, putting away 37 batters by strikeout.
Closer Matt Valencia (Stockton, Calif.) appeared in 21 contests with four saves and a 3-2 record, registering a UH single season record ERA of 1.03 across 26.1 innings. The left-hander only allowed three earned runs the entire season, striking out 29 batters and allowing only a .075 batting average against.
Kahalu'u, O'ahu rookie catcher Kekai Rios ranked second for the 'Bows and ninth in the Big West with a .331 average. Of his 52 hits on the season, eight went for doubles and another for a home run. He recorded 18 RBI and 23 runs, logging a .391 on-base percentage and .401 slugging percentage. The freshman backstop also mowed down would-be base thieves, recording 19 pickoffs on the year – the third-most in the conference rankings.
Cal State Fullerton's Rick Vanderhook was named Big West Coach of the Year. CSF's Dalton Blaser earned Field Player of the Year, while Long Beach State's Darren McCaughan was Pitcher of the Year and LBSU's Garrett Hampson was Defensive Player of the Year. Among the rookies, Cal Poly catcher Nick Meyer was named Freshman Field Player of the Year and CSF's Colton Eastman was Freshman Pitcher of the Year.
The 'Bows finished their season with a 23-30 overall record, going 12-12 in Big West play for the second consecutive season.