June 8, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The accolades continued to roll in Thursday for the Santa Clara University baseball team's young nucleus of talent as outfielder Matt Long and starting pitcher Matt Wickswat were named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team by Collegiate Baseball News. With the honor Long and Wickswat become the first SCU All-Americans since Anthony Rea was named to the second team in 2004 and first Freshman All-Americans since Patrick Overholt in 2003.
Santa Clara, with two players selected, was one of 11 schools to have more than one player named to the Freshman All-America team. Texas led all schools with four selections.
Long, a local product from Los Altos and St. Francis High School, was among the West Coast Conference leaders with a .336 average in 2006, which was also tied for second on the SCU roster. The rookie outfielder started 51 of the 53 games in which he appeared this season, finishing tied for second on the team with 71 hits and three triples while also swatting nine doubles and scoring 30 runs.
A redshirt freshman from Bellevue, Wash., Wickswat transferred to the Mission Campus from Gonzaga and immediately made an impact with the Broncos. Anchoring the SCU staff, Wickswat went 9-2 in his freshman campaign with a 3.54 earned-run average, both totals among the conference leaders. He also paced the Broncos with 84.0 innings pitched and 66 strikeouts.
"It's very difficult to come in and make an immediate impact as a freshman, and not only did they do that but they also had All-American years, and that's something they'll have for the rest of their lives," said head coach Mark O'Brien. "I think they have even more in them than what we saw this year. If they continue to work hard and get their games to the level they know they can get to, we'll see better things from them down the road."
For the duo it is another honor to add to their outstanding rookie years at Santa Clara, as both were also named to the All-WCC second- and freshman teams. Along with shortstop Brady Fuerst, who was named to the WCC's All-Freshman team and relievers Daniel DeMarco, who, along with teammate Jeff Lombard, paced the WCC with 29 mound appearances and closer Mark Willinsky, who earned nine saves and made 28 appearances on the hill, the future looks bright for the SCU Nine.
"We have some experienced guys coming back, and we really haven't had this kind of pitching depth coming back ever in my years here at Santa Clara," O'Brien continued. "Not only that, but we have some very talented position players and we like the fact that we have some players who have put up some numbers and done good things, but again, I believe its about if we continue to put the hard work and effort into what it takes to be successful, we have a chance to do just that."