WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Center fielder Sean Kinney, who hit .396 this spring and played his second consecutive season of errorless defense in the outfield, tops a group of four Whitman College juniors who have earned All-Northwest Conference baseball honors.
Kinney (Seattle, Wash. / Blanchet HS) was named to the All-NWC First Team. While Kinney finished just below the .400 mark in playing 36 games this season, he hit .408 in his 24 NWC games.
Simon Pollack, a sophomore playing his first season of collegiate baseball, was named to the All-NWC Second Team as a utility player. Pollack (Bainbridge Island, Wash. / Bainbridge HS), who divided his playing time between first base and the outfield, hit .328 on the season and .348 against conference opponents.
Andrew Shultz, an outfielder, and Steve Johnson, a pitcher, earned Honorable Mention recognition for the Missionaries. Shultz (Bellevue, Wash. / Blanchet HS) hit .316 on the season, while Johnson topped the pitching staff with a 3.61 earned run average and 5-1 win-loss record.
Kinney, who hits in the lead-off spot for Whitman, had a .520 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage in his NWC games this season. His .408 batting average in NWC games was the third highest average among players who appeared in at least 20 conference games.
”Sean definitely deserved his spot on the First Team,” Whitman coach Casey Powell said. “Sean is one of the best outfielders in the conference, and it showed again this season. He did a great job for us in the lead-off spot, and he played great defense.”
Kinney led the Missionaries this season in hits (57), runs scored (32), total bases (71), walks (24) and stolen bases (six), in addition to batting, on-base and slugging percentages. He handled 147 chances defensively, committing his only error while substituting in one game at shortstop for an injured teammate.
A year ago as a sophomore, Kinney hit a team-high .328 on the season and handled 97 chances in the outfield without an error. As a freshman, he hit .331 and earned All-NWC Honorable Mention recognition. He made three outfield errors as a freshman, the last of which came on March 17, 2002. Since then, Kinney has played in 85 consecutive games in the outfield without committing an error.
Pollack, who played in all 36 games for the Missionaries, knocked in 24 runs to lead the team in that category. He clubbed two home runs, one triple and four doubles. In 24 NWC games, he posted identical .449 on-base and slugging percentages.
”Simon was a very pleasant surprise this spring,” Powell said. “I don’t like to think about how our season might have gone had he not transferred to Whitman. He played exceptionally well in his first year of college baseball. He never knew where he was going to be playing some days, but he always came to the yard ready to play.”
Shultz, who also played in all 36 games, led Whitman in doubles with 11. He also ripped one home run and one triple, finishing with a .436 slugging percentage.
Shultz made his biggest contributions with his defensive play in the outfield. “Andrew may have had the best year defensively that any outfielder could have,” Powell said. “He made so many diving catches that it became routine. We began to expect those catches every time. He and Sean saved a number of runs and even more hits with the amount of ground they covered in the outfield.”
Serving as both a starter and reliever, Johnson tossed 52.1 innings this season, the third highest total on the team. He started five games and tossed one shutout, scattering two hits in a five-inning 5-0 victory over the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford in an early season game. One of his strongest outings came on the final weekend of the season, when he threw eight innings in a 3-1 victory over Puget Sound.
”Steve was consistent on the mound for us all season,” Powell said. “We knew that as a relief pitcher he was going to keep us in games. When he was called upon to start, we knew he was going to give us an opportunity to win every time.”
Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information, (509)