Monday, May 9, 2005

Kinney Earns All-NWC First Team Baseball Honors, Again

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Sean Kinney, who hit .381 this spring for the Whitman College baseball team, has been named to the All-Northwest Conference First-Team as an outfielder for a second consecutive season.

Kinney (Seattle, Wash. / Bishop Blanchet HS), who played his final 11 games at shortstop, also earned Honorable Mention recognition as a "utility" player. Kinney was moved to the shortstop position late in the season to help solidify a young and somewhat shaky infield defense.

Andrew Shultz, a senior outfielder, is the only other Whitman player to earn All-NWC honors this spring. Shultz (Bellevue, Wash. / Bishop Blanchet HS), who hit .295 on the season, received Honorable Mention recognition for as a second consecutive season.

"I was happy to see that Sean was voted first team again this season," Whitman coach Casey Powell said. "As a hitter, Sean has been one of the hardest outs in the conference for a long time."

Powell also praised Kinney's willingness to switch defensive positions midway during the season to help his team. "The dedication to team that Sean showed in moving from the outfield to the infield is something I appreciated very much. He will be missed greatly next season, both in the field and at the plate."

Kinney posted the fifth-best marks in the NWC this spring in batting average (.381) as well as on-base percentage (.465). He led Whitman in hitting for a third consecutive season, topping the Missionaries this season in hits (52), runs scored (25) and walks (20). As a four-year starter, Kinney collected 197 hits and finished with a .360 career batting average. He swiped 34 bases in 46 attempts, including eight of 12 this past season.

Kinney hit .396 as a junior and .328 as a sophomore. He earned All-NWC Honorable Mention recognition as a freshman when his batting average was .331.

Kinney also played nearly flawless defense in the outfield. He did not make a single outfield error during his sophomore and junior seasons. After making his third and final error of his freshman season on March 17, 2002, he played a string of 90 consecutive games in the outfield without committing an error. That string was snapped on March 5 of this year in a game against Pacific Lutheran.

Shultz, a three-year starter in right field, overcame a slow start at the plate this spring to post the third-best batting average on the Whitman squad. His batting average in 24 NWC games was .312. A year ago as a junior, Shultz hit .316 on the season.

"Andrew really struggled at the plate early this season, but he kept working hard and made a few adjustments to his swing that made a big difference," Powell said. "His second half of the season was as good as you could ask for."

Shultz hit .444 during his final 12 games, collecting at least one hit in ten of those games.

Shultz also continued to play superlative outfield defense this season, Powell said. "Andrew is one of the best defensive outfielders in the conference. He gets good jumps and makes good reads. He was usually good for one diving catch per game. He saved a lot of runs for us in the outfield."

Shultz, who stole seven bases in 11 attempts this spring, and Kinney helped raise Whitman's overall level of team speed, Powell said. "It will be hard to make up for the speed we are losing in Sean and Andrew."


Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information, (509) 527-5902