Baseball: Penders, Kay, DeRoche-Duffin among Huskies honored with conference awards

From left, manager Jim Penders, Anthony Kay, Tim Cate and Joe DeRoche-Duffin are seen in action. These four were given major awards on Monday from the American Athletic Conference. (@UConnBaseball)

After finishing third in conference play, the American Athletic Conference honored several members of the UConn baseball team.

The Huskies (33-22, 14-9 The American) nearly pulled off a clean sweep the major awards. Joe DeRoche-Duffin won Player of the Year, Anthony Kay was named Pitcher of the Year, manager Jim Penders was named Coach of the Year and Tim Cate was awarded the conference’s Rookie Pitcher of the Year.

The head coaches in the American Athletic Conference were the voters for all awards.

To go along with the four major awards, eight Huskies were named to the All-Conference teams. Kay and DeRoche-Duffin were named to the First Team alongside third baseman Willy Yahn. Bryan Daniello, Patrick Ruotolo, Bobby Melley and Jack Sundberg joined Cate on the Second Team.

The eight selections are the most for UConn since it had 11 players named to All Conference teams in the Big East in 2011.

After capturing three coaching awards in the Big East, Penders took home his first American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. The Huskies have won 30 or more games in 10 of Penders’ 13 seasons at the helm and he recently won his 450th career game.

DeRoche-Duffin led the conference with 17 home runs to go along with his 52 RBI in 55 games played. He held a .571 slugging percentage to go along with his conference-leading 116 total bases. The senior RF had two multi-homerun games, becoming the first to hit two in one game since the 2012 season.

Kay finished the season 7-2 with a 2.47 ERA, living up to the preseason hype. He was tabbed as the preseason Co-Pitcher of the Year. Kay, widely projected to be a first round pick in the upcoming MLB Draft, broke the school record for strikeouts with 249.

The addition of Cate turned out to be a boon for the Huskies. The lefty worked his way into the rotation and finished with a 3-1 overall record in 69.0 innings pitched. His control was stellar, helping him to rack up 86 strikeouts compared to just 24 walks. His .193 batting average against was tops on the team and was good for second in The American. Cate posted three 11-strikeout performances in 11 starts in his rookie season.

After a strong freshman campaign, third baseman Willy Yahn became an even more dangerous hitter for the Huskies. He led the conference in hits and doubles and finished fourth in batting average.

Every team needs a dominant bullpen and the Huskies had that at the back end. Their closer, Patrick Ruotolo, finished the season as one of the conference’s elite closers with nine saves and an 11.78 K/9IP. He moved into fifth place on UConn’s all-time saves leaderboard.

First baseman Bobby Melley was a strong presence in the middle of the lineup for the Huskies. He finished in the top-10 in the conference in hits (62), runs (46), home runs (9), and RBIs (49). His 280 career hits is second amongst active NCAA players.

Senior shortstop Bryan Daniello drove in 31 runs and finished the regular season with seven multi-RBI games. He also stole 10 bases and started all 55 games.

Centerfielder Jack Sundberg had 16 multi-hit games and led the conference with 49 runs as the Huskies' leadoff hitter. The centerfielder drew 40 walks and finished 17-for-23 on stolen-base attempts. He is second all-time in steals for UConn.

The Huskies are next in action in American Athletic Conference tournament play on Wednesday when they take on sixth seeded Memphis.


Elan-Paolo DeCarlo is the associate digital editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at elan-paolo.decarlo@uconn.edu. He tweets @ElanDeCarlo.