June 14, 2004
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Just weeks after being named a second-team All-Big West shortstop and the conference Freshman Player of the Year, Gaucho newcomer Chris Valaika was named to Collegiate Baseball's Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team. The monthly publication announced on Friday, June 11, that Valaika was one of four freshman shortstops in the nation to be awarded the honor.
Valaika, who has also been invited to tryout for Team USA later this month, posted one of the best freshman campaigns ever by a Gaucho as he finished in the top-five among Gauchos in nine major offensive categories. His 77 hits led UCSB and also broke Chris Malec's 2002 record of 75 hits by a freshman. Valaika finished second on the team with a .347 average and second with seven home runs. His 119 total bases led the team and his 195 assists at shortstop was the most in the Big West Conference.