Announces 2016 Baseball All-Conference Teams
SAN BRUNO, Calif. – After the first three-way tie for the regular season title in the modern era, five programs captured one of the five major West Coast Conference individual honors. Tri-champions BYU, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s claimed a combined nine spots on the 2016 All-WCC first team as announced today by the league office.
Gonzaga junior infielder Jeff Bohling captured West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors, Pepperdine junior righthander A.J. Puckett earned conference Pitcher of the Year accolades, while first-year star outfielder Keaton Kringlen collected the Freshman of the Year award for BYU. Junior shortstop Nico Giarratano of San Francisco captured Defensive Player of the Year honors. Saint Mary’s Eric Valenzuela was selected by his peers as Coach of the Year. All five individual awards – along with the All-West Coast Conference First, Second and Freshman Teams – were voted on solely by the league’s 10 head coaches.
Jeff Bohling is the fourth Gonzaga student-athlete to capture West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors since 2002 and the first since All-American Marco Gonzales shared the honor in 2013. Bohling hit .319 with a WCC-best 15 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 27 RBI while slugging .647 during league play. The junior third baseman turned in a .925 fielding percentage, committing four errors in 53 chances and contributed to three double plays during WCC games.
All-American candidate A.J. Puckett turned in one of the most dominant seasons in Pepperdine and WCC history as a junior. Named to the National Pitcher of the Year Watch List, Puckett posted a sparkling 7-1 record with a league-best 0.40 ERA during WCC play and turned in the longest scoreless innings streak (45.2) and unearned runs streak (57.1) in program and conference history. Opposing hitters managed a .191 batting average. In 67.0 innings, Puckett allowed three earned runs and struck out 68 while walking 17. Puckett’s 0.40 ERA during WCC games is the lowest in conference history, surpassing San Francisco All-American Dana Hendershott’s 0.60 mark set in 1971.
Keaton Kringlen enjoyed a strong freshman campaigns for BYU. During league play, Kringlen batted .390 with nine doubles, a home run and drove in 24 while scoring 20 runs. The infielder ranked second among league leaders in average and was third in hits (39). Kringlen is the second Cougar named Freshman of the Year and the first since Jacob Hannemann was tabbed in 2013.
Nico Giarratano enjoyed a strong season up the middle for San Francisco and collected Defensive Player of the Year honors. The shortstop turned in a stellar year matching a program record by committing just one error in 131 chances en route to a .992 fielding percentage. Giarratano helped turn 17 double plays and keyed the best defensive unit in the WCC. The Dons posted a WCC-best .983 fielding percentage with a league-low 17 errors.
Third year head coach Eric Valenzuela earns his first Coach of the Year honor after guiding Saint Mary’s to a share of its first regular season championship in program history. The Gaels posted an 18-9 conference slate (30-23 overall) and received votes in multiple national polls. Saint Mary’s ranked second in team ERA (2.99) and fourth in team batting (.282) during league contests. Valenzuela guided the Gaels to its highest overall and conference win tally since 1992, and becomes the first Saint Mary’s skipper (second overall) to capture Coach of the Year honors. Don Jamerson was tabbed as top coach in 1991.
The first pitch of the 2016 WCC Baseball Championship is on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. PDT, when top-seed Saint Mary’s faces No. 4 Pepperdine. That game will be followed by No. 2 BYU vs. No. 3 Gonzaga at approximately 7 p.m. PDT. All games of the championship will be broadcast live on TheW.tv and can also be accessed on the WCCsports App.
2016 West Coast Conference Player of the Year
Jeff Bohling, Jr., IF, Gonzaga
2016 West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year
A.J. Puckett, Jr., RHP, Pepperdine
2016 West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year
Keaton Kringlen, Fr., OF, BYU
2016 West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year
Nico Giarratano, Jr., IF, San Francisco
2016 West Coast Conference Coach of the Year
Eric Valenzuela, Saint Mary’s