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Alex McKenna, Spencer Howard Earn Top Mustang Team Awards

Alex McKenna, Spencer Howard Earn Top Mustang Team Awards

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly sophomore center fielder Alex McKenna earned the Cal Poly baseball team's Ozzie Smith Most Valuable Player Award for 2017 while redshirt sophomore right-hander Spencer Howard captured the Mike Krukow Outstanding Pitcher Award.

Mustang 15th-year head baseball coach Larry Lee announced the team award winners Tuesday.

McKenna (6-2, 195, Canyon Country, Calif./Alemany High School), one of three Mustangs named to the All-Big West Conference first team last week, was Cal Poly's top hitter with a .360 average.

He finished first in the Big West in at-bats (236) and plate appearances (264) and was second with his 85 hits, missing Cal Poly's all-time top 10 by one. McKenna also contributed 11 doubles, five home runs and 31 RBI, stole 13 of 19 bases and did not commit an error in 145 fielding chances.

McKenna led the team with 30 multiple-hit games, including a four-hit contest against Cal State Fullerton, and 10 multiple-RBI games. Over his final 31 games this season, McKenna hit .396 (55-for-139) with 20 multiple-hit contests, elevating his batting average 51 points.

Howard finished second in the Big West with his 2.05 ERA and his eight wins also are No. 2. Howard struck out 97 batters, third in the conference, over 87 2/3 innings, averaging nearly 10 strikeouts per nine-inning game. Nationally, Howard was No. 23 in ERA, No. 71 in WHiP (1.08), No. 49 in victories, No. 58 in strikeouts and No. 91 in strikeouts per nine innings.

Another first-team All-Big West selection, Howard won his last five starts and became the first Mustang starter since Kyle Anderson in 2012 to finish the year with just one loss. Last week, he earned a spot on Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's All-American second team.

McKenna also earned the team's Monty Waltz Big Stick award.

Sophomore catcher Nick Meyer, the 2016 Big West Conference Freshman Field Player of the Year and a second-team All-Big West selection for the second straight year, earned the John Orton Gold Glove award for the second year in a row.

Meyer (6-0, 195, Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic High School), 2016 Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year and a second-team All-Big West selection, caught 18 would-be base stealers (second in the Big West) and picked off four other runners (No. 1 in the Big West) as a sophomore.

He finished with a .255 batting average, six steals and 31 RBI and was first in the Big West and 46th in the nation in toughest to strike out, fanning out once every 12.5 at-bats.

Freshman infielder Bradlee Beesley was named winner of the Scott Kidd Rookie of the Year award while junior relief pitcher Trent Shelton captured the Jason Maas Captain's Award.

After a .172 start in the first nine games of the season, Beesley (5-10, 165, San Leandro, Calif./San Leandro High School) closed out a .305 campaign by going .328 the rest of the way, including a pair of four-hit games. With 13 doubles, he shared the team lead with Marinconz.

Shelton (6-4, 205, Lafayette, Calif./Campolindo High School/Oregon State) posted a 1-1 mark and 2.30 ERA, primarily as a left-handed relief specialist. The transfer from Oregon State posted a 1-1 record and 2.30 ERA, allowing opponents to hit just .217 and striking out 42 batters over 43 innings. Shelton also made three starts, earning the win against UC Santa Barbara in the series finale May 21 by allowing two unearned runs and six hits over six innings with six strikeouts.

Other award winners include junior outfielder Colby Barrick, who collected the Dave Oliver Hustle Award; sophomore right-hander Austin Dondanville (Robin Baggett Scholar-Athlete Award), senior right-hander Slater Lee (Dick Morrow Coaches Award) and sophomore right-hander Michael Clark (Jim Newkirk Fireman's Award).

Barrick (5-11, 185, Santa Ynez, Calif./Santa Ynez High School) hit .303 in 42 games (26 starts) with 14 RBI while Dondanville (6-0, 190, Walnut Creek, Calif./De La Salle High School) compiled a 3.67 ERA and earned a win in relief against Pepperdine.

Lee (6-0, 200, Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad High School) wrapped up his Mustang career with a 4-2 record and 2.86 ERA with two saves, striking out 54 batters over 44 innings. He won 11 games in his four-year career at Cal Poly, including a two-hit shutout against then-defending national champion UCLA in 2014. Clark (6-0, 170, Rohnert Park, Calif./Cardinal Newman High School) earned 11 saves, a 5-0 mark and 2.59 ERA as Cal Poly's closer, holding opposing hitters to a .197 average.

Cal Poly earned its fourth second-place Big West finish since joining the conference in 1997, posting a 16-8 mark. The Mustangs overcame 2-9 and 8-16 starts by winning 20 of their last 32 games to finish 28-28 overall.

Cal Poly has posted 15 non-losing seasons since 2000, won 16 of 27 home games this year and claimed seven of the eight Big West series. The Mustangs have finished in the upper half of the conference standings 13 times in Lee's 15 seasons at the helm.