May 29, 2003
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University baseball team honored several deserving players while celebrating its successful 2003 season that saw the Broncos post the program's first winning campaign since 1997.
Scott Dierks, who was named the West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Year last week, was honored with two awards Wednesday night, earning team MVP honors and being selected as the Most Valuable Hitter. During his senior season Dierks posted some mind-boggling numbers, batting .394 with 18 home runs, 45 runs scored 42 RBI, a slugging percentage of .794 and an on base percentage of .485 as the team's leadoff hitter. In league play alone he captured the Triple Crown, batting .425 with 14 home runs and 34 RBI in 30 conference games.
Fellow senior Joe Diefenderfer was honored as the team's Most Valuable Pitcher. The southpaw posted an 8-3 record and a 3.40 ERA in 17 appearances on the mound, 10 of which were as the starter. He struck out 69 and walked only 12 in 87 1/3 innings of work. He was, like Dierks, a unanimous first team All-WCC selection as he went 6-0 with a 1.54 ERA in league play.
Jack Headley was selected as the team's Defensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row. He made only two errors on the season but it was his ability to track down fly balls in the right center and left center field gaps that earned him the honor in 2003.
Freshmen Jason Matteucci and Patrick Overholt had outstanding rookie campaigns in 2003, earning them Rookie of the Year and Reliever of the Year honors, respectively. Matteucci batted .311 on the season while leading the team with 74 hits in 238 at-bats. He was the only player to start all 57 games for the Broncos this season. Overholt earned second team All-WCC honors after posting a 4-4 record with 10 saves and a 3.00 ERA in 29 appearances this year. His 10 saves ranked him 24th in the country and tied the all-time single season mark in Bronco Baseball history.
Fellow freshmen Michael Lange and David Hoffmire were both selected as recipients of the Most Improved Player award. Lange entered WCC play with a batting average that was hovering around .150, but after batting .316 in league action he finished the year with a very respectable .250 average. Hoffmire appeared in 31 games during his freshman campaign but came up big in his nine starts. Seven of his nine hits in 2003 came during those nine starts, including three hits and three runs scored in team's final four games.
Redshirt sophomores Kellan McConnell and Anthony Rea were both honored as the team's comeback players of the year. Both pitchers returned in 2003 after sitting out the 2002 seasons because of arm surgeries. McConnell returned to the bump following Tommy John Surgery last spring and promptly posted a 4-4 record with a 3.18 ERA. In league play alone he went 3-3 with a 2.82 ERA. Rea returned this season following shoulder surgery in 2002. He posted a 1-1 record with a 3.05 ERA while leading the team with his 37 appearances.
The final awards handed out on Wednesday night were the Coaches' Awards. Unlike the other awards, which were voted on by the players, these three awards were selected by the coaching staff for various reasons. Senior catches Jim Wallace and David Mandley each earned Coaches' Awards on the evening for their hard work and dedication to the program over the years. Wallace who came on strong at the end of the 2003 season recovered from a broken wrist and broken ankle suffered just prior to the school year and was forced to miss most of the team's fall practices this year. Mandley proved to be a valuable member of the team in both pinch-hitting and other various roles. In his final game as a Bronco, he connected on a home run that helped SCU to an 8-3 victory over Saint Mary's. The final Coaches' Award went to freshman Scott Lonergan who was sidelined during the 2003 season following arm surgery that repaired a blood clot in his right arm. Lonergan was credited for being a positive and upbeat leader despite having no chance to physically contribute to the team in 2003.
The night ended following the awards and following a congratulations that was made public to senior A.J. LaBarbera. The senior second baseman, who earned second team All-WCC honors in 2003, was congratulated on his recent contract that he signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants. LaBarbera became the first Bronco baseball player this year to reach an agreement with a big league club. Many other Broncos might soon have that same opportunity as the MLB first-year player draft approaches on June 3-5.