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Texas Collegiate League Announces Annual Awards

Michael Aquino, Kyle Kubat and Curt Dixon captured hardware while the two league finalists, East Texas and Victoria, led a balanced All-TCL team

One week after crowning a new league champion, the Texas Collegiate League announced its slate of annual awards, handing out hardware in four major categories. The league also announced the 2012 All-TCL team.

Three different teams split the four major awards, while six organizations landed players on the All-TCL team. The awards were selected in a poll of the league’s coaches.

The Woodlands Strykers capped a successful inaugural season when outfielder Michael Aquino was named the 2012 TCL Player of the Year. Aquino became the first player in TCL history to lead the league in both batting average (.327) and home runs (ten), falling just six RBI short of capturing the circuit’s first Triple Crown. The sophomore from Rice also led the league with three triples and a .588 slugging percentage, and he finished in the top-5 in the regular season in hits (54, second) and runs (25, fourth).

Also falling in the category of near-Triple Crowns and league firsts is Kyle Kubat of the East Texas Pump Jacks, who became the first person to capture both the TCL Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards in the same season. Kubat finished the regular season tied for the league lead with six wins and in second in both strikeouts (51) and ERA (1.65), falling just short of capturing the pitching Triple Crown. The Nebraska left-hander compiled a 6-1 record over 60 regular season innings, allowing 50 hits and walking only 13 with one complete game shutout. He added a complete-game win over the Alexandria Aces in the first round of the playoffs that sent East Texas to the TCL Championship Series.

Rounding out the awards is Brazos Valley Bombers head coach Curt Dixon, who was named the TCL Coach of the Year. In his first year at the Bombers’ helm, Dixon and the Bombers ran away with the second-half division title, capturing the best overall record in the final week of the season. With a 39-21 regular season record, Dixon’s Bombers set a franchise record for wins in a season and fell one victory short of tying the league record.

The Pump Jacks and Victoria Generals, who met in a dramatic TCL Championship Series, each posted three players to the All-TCL team. Brazos Valley and the Acadiana Cane Cutters each landed two on the squad, while the Strykers and Aces had one player apiece.

Aquino was joined in the All-TCL outfield by Victoria’s Jude Vidrine and the Aces’ Rene Moreda. Moreda finished the summer third in the TCL with a .320 average, with Vidrine right behind him at .317. Moreda also tied for sixth in the league in RBI (35) and tied for fourth in runs scored (36). Vidrine led the TCL with 39 walks and a .459 on-base percentage.

Headlining the infield was Victoria’s All-TCL second baseman Chad Kruse, one of two players to repeat on the squad. One year after setting the league record for hits, Kruse batted .294 and finished among the top-5 with 38 runs and 36 RBI.

Holding down opposite corners of the infield were a pair of Brazos Valley teammates, first baseman James Wharton and third baseman Brennyn Smith. Wharton was among the top-5 in batting (.308), home runs (six), doubles (15), and slugging percentage (.538). Smith led the league with 42 RBI and 41 runs scored, and he tied with Wharton and two others for second in the TCL with six home runs.

Rounding out the All-TCL infield were two Acadiana teammates, shortstop Isaac Rodriguez and catcher Mitchell Nau. Rodriguez was sixth in the league with a .304 average and third with a .407 on-base percentage, adding 32 runs. Nau batted .284 with 29 runs scored and 27 walks.

The pitching slots on the All-TCL squad were hardly in doubt this summer. Kubat was named the top lefty starter, while Generals’ ace Jordan Pacheco nabbed All-TCL right-hander honors. Pacheco tied Kubat and two others for the league lead in wins in the regular season with a 6-2 record, and he finished third in both ERA (1.90) and strikeouts (50).

After sharing All-TCL closer honors in 2011, East Texas reliever Jason Jester did everything he could to earn the position outright this summer. Jester posted a league-record 19 saves in the regular season, besting the old mark by six saves. He did not allow an earned run in 25 regular season appearances, striking out 41 with only two walks in 30 innings.

All award winners are listed below.

2012 TCL Award Winners
Player of the Year: Michael Aquino, The Woodlands
Pitcher of the Year: Kyle Kubat, East Texas
Freshman of the Year: Kyle Kubat, East Texas
Coach of the Year: Curt Dixon, Brazos Valley

2012 All-TCL Team
Catcher: Mitchell Nau, Acadiana
First Base: James Wharton, Brazos Valley
Second Base: Chad Kruse, Victoria
Third Base: Brennyn Smith
Shortstop: Isaac Rodriguez, Acadiana
Outfield: Michael Aquino, The Woodlands
Outfield: Rene Moreda, Alexandria
Outfield: Jude Vidrine, Victoria
Right-Handed Pitcher: Jordan Pacheco, Victoria
Left-Handed Pitcher: Kyle Kubat, East Texas
Relief Pitcher: Jason Jester, East Texas

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