-- UConn Baseball (@UConnBaseball) May 23, 2016
CLEARWATER, Fla. - With a 33-win regular season in the books, four members of the UConn baseball team were honored with major end-of-the-year American Athletic Conference awards on Monday. Husky skipper Jim Penders was named the Coach of the Year, Joe DeRoche-Duffin (Santa Ana, Calif.) earned Player of the Year honors, Anthony Kay (Stony Brook, N.Y.) was selected as the Pitcher of the Year, while freshman Tim Cate (Manchester, Conn.) was tabbed as the conference's Rookie of the Year, as announced by the conference after a vote of the league's head coaches.
In addition to the four major award winners, Connecticut placed eight total players on All-Conference teams, including three First Team selections. Kay and DeRoche-Duffin were joined on the All-Conference First Team by standout 3B Willy Yahn (Sharon, Conn.), while Cate, Patrick Ruotolo (Peabody, Mass.), Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.), Bryan Daniello (Norwalk, Conn.) and Jack Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn.) earned spots on the Second Team.
Connecticut's eight All-Conference selections are most since it had 11 players honored by the Big East in 2011.
Penders earns his first American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year nod after receiving three regular-season coaching awards during the Huskies' time in the Big East. The 13th-year head coach collected his 450th career victory in the Huskies' sweep over USF on Saturday and has led the team to 30-plus wins in 10 of his 13 years at the helm of the Connecticut program.
DeRoche-Duffin turned in one of the most prolific offensive seasons in UConn history, bashing a conference-best 17 home runs to go along with 52 RBIs in 55 games played. The Husky RF led the team with a .574 slugging percentage and turned in 14 multi-RBI games throughout the season, finishing second in the conference in total bases (116). The senior slugger collected two multi-home run games during the year, becoming the first Husky to blast two home runs in one game since 2012. DeRoche-Duffin collected a pair of Player of the Week honors during the regular season, earning distinction on April 18 and May 2.
Kay, who was selected as the league's preseason Co-Pitcher of the Year, did not disappoint in his junior campaign, finishing 7-2 with a team-best 2.47 ERA in 98.1 inning pitched. The Husky ace established a new program record in strikeouts (249), passing former Husky and current Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes ('11) and became just the sixth player in team history to reach the 20-win plateau. Kay's Pitcher of the Year honor marks the second-straight season a Husky has taken home the accolade after Carson Cross ('15) collected the award in 2015.
Cate burst onto the scene in his freshman campaign, working his way into a mainstay in the Husky rotation. The southpaw posted a 3-1 overall record in 69.0 innings pitched, racking up 86 strikeouts compared to just 24 walks. His .193 batting average against was tops on the team and stood at second in The American. Cate posted three 11-strikeout performances in 11 starts in his rookie season.
Yahn established himself as one of the most dangerous hitters in the country during a standout sophomore campaign, leading The American in total hits (78) and doubles (19), while ranking fourth with a .326 batting average. The Husky 3B registered a team-leading 23 multi-hit games, including four four-hit contests and checked in at No. 3 in the league with 112 total bases. In the field, Yahn tallied 124 assists.
Ruotolo etched his name into the Connecticut history books as junior in 2016, moving into fifth on the program's all-time save list (17). With a stellar 11.78 K/9 mark, Ruotolo led the team with a 0.99 WHIP and finished in a tie for second in the conference with nine saves.
Melley, who ranks second among all active NCAA Division I players with 280 hits, was a force in the three-hole for the Huskies in 2016, ranking among the top-10 in the conference in hits (62), runs (46), home runs (9), and RBIs (49).
Daniello wrapped up his final regular season in a Connecticut uniform, starting in all 55 games and ending the year with a .258 batting average and a career-best four home runs. The Husky shortstop drove in 31, finishing with seven multi-RBI games, and swiped 10 bags.
Sundberg, who owns sole possession of second on the program's all-time steals list (82), started in 53 games in 2016, collecting 16 multi-hit games and scoring a conference-best 49 runs as the Huskies' leadoff hitter. The centerfielder worked 40 walks and finished 17-for-23 on stolen-base attempts.
The Huskies begin postseason action on Wednesday, May 25 at 3 p.m. when they challenge sixth-seeded Memphis in The American Championship. A complete game preview is available by CLICKING HERE.
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