Mitchell Nau and Nick Rossetta led a class that saw Curt Dixon repeat as top coach and Blake Kopetsky and Matthew Dickey share an award, while the first-place Bombers led the way with four members on the All-TCL team.
The Texas Collegiate League embarks on the playoffs Saturday, but on Friday the league announced its annual award winners and All-TCL team.
Three teams split the four major awards, including two players sharing an award for the first time in the TCL’s ten seasons. Five of the six teams landed players on the All-TCL team. The awards were selected by a poll of the league’s coaches.
The TCL Player of the Year was won in convincing fashion by Mitchell Nau of the Acadiana Cane Cutters. The 2012 All-TCL catcher, Nau was even better in his encore season, leading the circuit with a .352 average. He is second in the league with 39 RBI, tied for second with 63 hits, and tied for third with six home runs. Nau also set a league mark for doubles when he clubbed his 18th double of the season Thursday night. The sophomore from Texas A&M cemented his claim to the award with his current nine-game hitting streak, during which he is hitting .526 and slugging .921. The two-time TCL all-star is also one of just two players to capture a pair of Warstic TCL Player of the Week awards this season.
Nau is the second Cane Cutter to be named TCL Player of the Year in the last three seasons. Taylor Dugas won the title in 2011, Acadiana’s inaugural season.
Taking home the TCL Pitcher of the Year award was East Texas Pump Jacks ace Nick Rossetta. The right-hander is leading the league with a 1.23 ERA, the lowest figure in the TCL since 2010. Rossetta is tied for second in the league in wins with a 6-2 record, and he tops the circuit with a pair of shutouts. In fact, the junior from Long Beach State has as many complete-game shutouts as the rest of the league combined. In a team-leading 58.1 innings, Rossetta scattered 49 hits while surrendering just eight earned runs, and he struck out 41 while walking just 18. The reigning Warstic TCL Pitcher of the Week has allowed just two earned runs since he appeared in the TCL All-Star Game on July 9.
Rossetta follows former Pump Jack Kyle Kubat, who took home the TCL Pitcher of the Year crown in 2012.
Blake Kopetsky and Matthew Dickey have several things in common. Both are freshman outfielders playing summer ball in their respective hometowns, for instance. Both are ranked in the top eight in batting, with Dickey sitting at .322 and Kopetsky at .306. The two were also named TCL Co-Freshmen of the Year, the first time in league history that voting resulted in a tie for a major award.
Kopetsky has boosted the high-octane Brazos Valley Bombers offense with 34 runs scored, 29 RBI, and five home runs to tie for the team lead. The Bryan native’s .450 slugging percentage is fourth in the league. The freshman from Temple College strung together a streak of 17 straight games in which he reached base by a hit or walk from early June to mid-July.
While Kopetsky slugged his way to the award, Dickey most certainly ran to it. The freshman from Stephen F. Austin swiped his 40th stolen base of the season Thursday night, setting a new TCL single-season record. He is third in the league in hitting and fifth with a .409 on-base percentage. The Kilgore native has stolen at least one base in 11 straight games, collecting 20 steals in that span.
The Freshman of the Year nod is the second in team history for Brazos Valley, who saw Casey Whitmer capture the award in 2007. Dickey’s title gives the Pump Jacks five straight years in which they have won the Freshman of the Year title, including last year when Kubat was the first player to win two awards in one season.
There was little doubt in the last of the four major awards, which saw Bombers head coach Curt Dixon pick up his second consecutive TCL Coach of the Year award. Dixon has led Brazos Valley to a record-breaking season, notching a 45-14 record with one game left to go. Dixon’s Bombers set TCL marks for wins in a season, winning percentage (.763), and record in one half (26-4 in the first half). Brazos Valley also set a new TCL record for highest ranking when they were listed at No. 2 in the country in Perfect Game’s opening summer collegiate national poll. Dixon and the Bombers opened the season with an eight-game win streak and never looked back, winning the first half in convincing fashion. Brazos Valley holds a 13-game lead over the next-best record in the TCL.
Dixon won the Coach of the Year award last season as well, his first campaign as head coach in the TCL.
With their dominance throughout the season, it comes as no surprise that the Bombers led all clubs with four players on the All-TCL team. The Pump Jacks followed with three, while both the Cane Cutters and the Woodlands Strykers landed two players on the team. The Texas Marshals had a lone representative to wrap up the All-TCL squad.
The only repeat member of the All-TCL team, Nau anchored an infield that included Acadiana teammate Logan Taylor at shortstop. Taylor is second in the TCL in hitting at .335, and ranks in the top-ten in runs (38), hits (58), and stolen bases (17).
Brazos Valley captured the right side of the infield, with G.R. Hinsley earning the nod at first base and Horacio Correa III taking second base. Hinsley was a run-producing machine, shattering the old league RBI record of 41 by driving in 54 runs on the season, 15 more than his closest competition. He is also seventh in the league in hitting (.307) and added five home runs. Correa sits just ahead of Hinsley with a .312 average, good for fifth in the league, adding 34 runs scored and 28 RBI.
Rounding out the infield was East Texas third baseman Joey Armstrong, who is batting .299 on the season with 27 runs, 31 RBI, and a league-leading four triples.
Kopetsky and Dickey were joined in the outfield by the Marshals’ Krey Bratsen. Bratsen’s .339 batting average would rank second in the league if he had enough plate appearances, but there is no discounting his 23 steals, good for third in the league.
Strykers first baseman Dirk Masters was selected the All-TCL designated hitter. Masters ranks in the top-seven in each of the Triple Crown categories, batting .320 (fourth in the league) with seven home runs (second) and 35 RBI (tied for fifth).
Opposite Rossetta was All-TCL lefty Zac Curtis, who was dominant in six starts this summer. Curtis went 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA, allowing just 17 hits in 39 innings pitched. He struck out 40 in 39 innings, good for third on the Bombers despite his limited playing time.
Grabbing the relief pitcher spot on the All-TCL team was league saves leader Gandy Stubblefield from The Woodlands. Stubblefield is 2-1 with eight saves and a 3.78 ERA, with 43 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched.
The TCL’s tenth postseason kicks off on Saturday with a pair of first round games. The top-ranked Bombers will host the Pump Jacks, and the No. 2-seeded Generals welcome the Cane Cutters. The first-round is a single do-or-die game, with winners advancing to the TCL Championship Series. The finals are a best-of-three affair beginning on Sunday.
All award winners are listed below.
2013 TCL Award Winners
Player of the Year: Mitchell Nau, Acadiana
Pitcher of the Year: Nick Rossetta, East Texas
Co-Freshmen of the Year: Blake Kopetsky, Brazos Valley & Matthew Dickey, East Texas
Coach of the Year: Curt Dixon, Brazos Valley
2013 All-TCL Team
Catcher: Mitchell Nau, Acadiana
First Base: G.R. Hinsley, Brazos Valley
Second Base: Horacio Correa III, Brazos Valley
Third Base: Joey Armstrong, East Texas
Shortstop: Logan Taylor, Acadiana
Outfield: Matthew Dickey, East Texas
Outfield: Blake Kopetsky, Brazos Valley
Outfield: Krey Bratsen, Texas
Designated Hitter: Dirk Masters, The Woodlands
Right-Handed Pitcher: Nick Rossetta, East Texas
Left-Handed Pitcher: Zac Curtis, Brazos Valley
Relief Pitcher: Gandy Stubblefield, The Woodlands