BIG EAST Announces 2011 Postseason Baseball Honors

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Connecticut outfielder George Springer became the fifth Husky player to be named BIG EAST Player of the Year as he unanimously earned the conference's top individual honor Tuesday in advance of the 2011 BIG EAST Baseball Championship at Bright House Field. Connecticut pitcher Matt Barnes was chosen as BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, while Notre Dame first baseman Trey Mancini was tabbed as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. Connecticut head coach Jim Penders was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the second straight season. Springer and Barnes were tabbed as the Preseason Player and Pitcher of the Year by the BIG EAST head coaches and both lived up to their billing with their postseason accolades. Both players were unanimously chosen to the All-BIG EAST First Team, highlighting a group of 11 Connecticut players who earned all-conference recognition. Springer finished the regular season ranked in the top five of nearly every offensive category in the BIG EAST. He led the league with 72 runs batted in, was second in the circuit with 12 home runs and was third with a .379 batting average. He led the league in slugging (.685) and total bases (139) and was second in doubles (22) and on-base percentage (.480). His power numbers aside, Springer also had a BIG EAST-leading 29 stolen bases and seven sacrifice flies. He joins Dave Ford (1985), Sal Tinnerello (1992), Jason Grabowski (1996) and Mike Scott (2001) as Connecticut's BIG EAST Player of the Year winners. Springer, the 2009 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, earned All-BIG EAST honors for the third time in as many years and was named to the first team for the second time in his career. Barnes is the first Connecticut player to be named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year since 14-year major leaguer Charles Nagy earned the honor in 1988 and 1989. Barnes won the BIG EAST pitching triple crown, leading the conference in wins (11), strikeouts (97) and earned-run average (1.20). He went 11-3 in the regular season, threw three complete-game shutouts, walked just 26 batters in 105 innings and limited opponents to a .163 batting average. Barnes went 8-1 with a 1.18 ERA in BIG EAST games, tying the league record for BIG EAST wins. Mancini is Notre Dame's fifth BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and the first for the Irish since Brett Lilley was selected in 2005. Mancini, who played in all 50 regular-season games and made 49 starts, led the Irish in most offensive categories, including batting (.333), home runs (9), RBI (34), hits (59), doubles (14), triples (3) and total bases (106). Penders becomes a three-time winner of the BIG EAST Coach of the Year award after he helped the Huskies to a 39-15-1 record in the regular season and a 22-5 BIG EAST mark that tied the league record for wins. Connecticut, which clinched its first BIG EAST regular-season title before any other team qualified for the BIG EAST Championship, finished three-and-a-half games ahead of the field in the final standings. The Huskies are ranked No. 15 in the Baseball America national poll and No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll heading into the postseason. Penders previously won BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors in 2006 and 2010. Connecticut, St. John's, Pittsburgh and Louisville all placed two players on the All-BIG EAST First Team. Pittsburgh catcher Kevan Smith joined Springer and Barnes as unanimous selections, while the Panthers were also represented by first baseman David Chester. Louisville had pitcher Justin Amlung and second baseman Ryan Wright on the first team, while St. John's had pitcher Kyle Hansen and shortstop Joe Panik on the squad. Seton Hall pitcher Joe DiRocco, USF third baseman Jonathan Koscso, Georgetown outfielder Rand Ravnaas and West Virginia designated hitter Jeremy Gum rounded out the 13-man first team.