June 25, 2004
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The awards continue to pile up for UC Santa Barbara shortstop Chris Valaika, who was named a First Team Freshman All-American by Baseball America earlier this week.
Earlier this month the Newhall, Calif., native earned similar acclaim from Collegiate Baseball, and in May was named Big West Conference Freshman of the Year and a Second Team all-league performer. Valaika enjoyed one of the best freshman campaigns in UCSB history, finishing among the top-five Gauchos in nine major offensive categories. His 77 hits led Santa Barbara 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.
Valaika is currently playing with the USA Baseball National Team in Durham, N.C., where Thursday night the Americans posted a 9-0 no-hitter in an exhibition game against Canada. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the victory. On Sunday, June 27 the current 32-player Team USA roster will be trimmed to 20, and comprise a squad that will compete in the FISU World University Championship. That tournament will be held July 22-Aug. 1 in Tainan, Taiwan.