Bennett Player of the Year
Sophomore outfielder Jake Bennett became the first Western Nevada College baseball player to win the Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year honor outright when coaches selected their postseason honorees this week.
Bennett joined former Wildcat Brian Barnett, who shared the conference’s top player award in 2008.
The statistics Bennett compiled in his final season with the Wildcats correspond to MVP numbers: .397 batting average, 44 runs scored, 36 RBI, 544 slugging average, 11 strikeouts in 204 at-bats and 17 stolen bases. The University of Oregon signee also stroked five triples, five doubles and five home runs.
In all, 11 Wildcats received SWAC first team, second team or honorable recognition.
Alongside Bennett, sophomore first baseman Corey Pool, freshman outfielder D.J. Peters and sophomore Kody Reynolds made the SWAC first team.
Peters was second to Bennett with a .346 batting average. The right fielder and spot reliever hit seven homers, 11 doubles and four triples, and was second on the club with 38 RBI.
Pool led the SWAC with eight homers and wound up fourth on the team with a .294 average.
Reynolds consistently delivered in the middle of the Wildcats’ lineup, leading the team in doubles (17), triples (six), extra-base hits (27) and RBI (45). The former McQueen High star was third on the team with a .333 average.
Reynolds made the transition from third base to shortstop halfway through the fall season to solidify the club’s middle infield. He wound up leading the SWAC with 147 assists.
Selected to the second team were sophomore pitcher Max Karnos, designated hitter Tim Lichty, and freshman pitchers Matt Young and Ty Fox.
Lichty provided one of the Wildcats’ two walk-off hits — a home run to end a marathon game against Salt Lake that spanned two days in March at John L. Harvey Field. The catcher/designated hitter batted .275 with 13 extra-base hits and a .413 slugging average.
Karnos, Young and Fox anchored the Wildcats’ pitching staff, starting 32 games between them. Karnos won half of his 10 decisions, was second to Cody Kerns with a 1.89 ERA and had a team-leading 70 strikeouts in 81 innings. Young led the staff with eight wins in 11 decisions, topped the starters with a .186 average for opposing hitters and was third on the staff with a 2.59 ERA. Fox finished strong, winning six of eight games and crafting a 3.82 ERA.
Earning honorable mention were sophomore relief pitcher Connor Zwetsch, who led the Wildcats with seven saves; sophomore relief pitcher Cody Kerns, who topped the club with a 1.19 earned run average; and infielder Austin Andrews, who hit .268 and scored 27 runs.
Jaussi named first team SWAC
Western Nevada College freshman shortstop Makaylee Jaussi’s speed, defense and productivity at the plate impressed coaches when it came time to name the All-Scenic West Athletic Conference softball teams.
Jaussi was selected to the first team on Wednesday and honored on Thursday during the opening day of the Region 18 Tournament in Taylorsville, Utah.
Two WNC freshmen also made the second team — outfielder Melanie Mecham and pitcher Kristina George.
Jaussi batted .323 in the leadoff position for the Wildcats and compiled a .413 on-base average. Once on base, Jaussi was a headache for catchers and pitchers as she stole 28 bases and scored 41 runs.
As much as speed set up her style of play, Jaussi still showed some pop in her bat. She hit three homers and legged out 11 doubles. Her .465 slugging average was fourth among Wildcats.
But perhaps more important to the Wildcats was the way she handled the major responsibilities of shortstop. Jaussi committed only nine errors while assisting on 121 plays.
Through 48 games, Mecham distinguished herself as one of the top hitters in the SWAC with a .417 batting average. Mecham delivered 37 RBI and 68 hits, and was second to Jaussi with 35 runs scored.
George entered the WNC program as prospective relief pitcher but became the ace of staff. She posted a 13-6 regular-season record, firing 11 complete games and accumulating a 3.14 earned run average.
George struck out 86 hitters in 140 1/3 innings.