The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team has been well represented in post-season honors, a tribute to their 42-15 season that continues with a trip to the NCAA Division II Championship.
Perhaps the most prestigious award of the group is one that was earned largely for efforts off the field, as junior shortstop Joseph Pena was one of just three athletes - across all conference schools in all sports - to earn the Excellence in Community and Character (ECC) Award. Presented at this week's conference awards dinner, the honor represents, "student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through positive actions and behaviors that are consistent with the NCAA Division II attributes of learning, service, passion, sportsmanship, balance and resourcefulness." Read more here.
Of course, on-field awards have been plentiful for members of the squad that captured its second East Regional Championship in the past four years. Frankie Moscatiello, who was already named Pitcher of the Year in the ECC, has been named East Region Pitcher of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches' Association, joining teammates Pena and outfielder Giovanni Dingcong on the first team, while infielder Anthony Shkrelja earned Second Team honors. To the horror of conference coaches, all four of those players are in just their junior year.
Those four players were also among those who earned regional kudos from the D2CCA (Division 2 Collegiate Commissioners Association) and NCBWA (National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association. Some of those regional awards are still in the process of selection national teams, so it's quite possible the Spartans' trophy case is not quite done yet.
Not to be lost in the shuffle, St. Thomas Aquinas was dominant in East Coast Conference honors, a tribute to their Regular-Season Championship. Coach Scott Muscat was named Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his tenure at STAC, and the aforementioned four were on the First Team All-Conference along with starting pitcher Chris Cepeda.
Catcher Cris Ruiz, first baseman Mark Shkrelja, second baseman Nick Lucchese, outfielders Juan Adorno and Mike Morgan, starter Anthony Morris, and relievers George Navadel and Chad Sinko all captured Second Team kudos, giving STAC an award winner at nearly every position.
St. Thomas Aquinas continues its quest for a National Championship on Sunday, May 28, taking on UC San Diego at 4:00 Eastern time in Grand Prairie, Texas.