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May 25, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Following an action-packed 2010 season, three Penn State baseball players were honored with postseason Big Ten awards, as announced at the Big Ten banquet on Tuesday evening. Junior catcher Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) was named First Team All-Big Ten while freshman outfielder Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) earned third team laurels. Both Snyder and redshirt freshman outfielder Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) also cracked the All-Freshman Squad.
Heath is Penn State's first First-Team honoree since pitcher Drew O'Neil in 2008. He marks the Lions' first positional player to earn first team laurels since catcher Chris Netwell in 2001.
Senior Louie Picconi (North Merrick, N.Y.) was also recognized on Tuesday as the team's sportsmanship honoree.
One of the nation's top players this season, Heath is one of only two players named to both the Johnny Bench Award and Dick Howser Trophy Semifinal Lists, joining Yasmani Grandal from Miami. The Howser Trophy, the "Heisman Trophy" of baseball, is presented to the top player in the country.
On May 14, Heath hit his 18th home run off the season off Minnesota ace Seth Rosin to break the 32-year Penn State single-season mark, this coming in his first at-bat at the historic Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Overall, he homered against three Big Ten aces - also Matt Bischoff (Purdue) and Alan Oaks (Michigan). The Nittany Lion cleanup hitter has four multi-home run games on the season, tied for first in the nation.
A serious contender for the Bench award, he is the team leader in most every statistical category: average (.369), home runs (19), RBI (57), runs scored (53), doubles (16), extra-base hits (36), total bases (148) and slugging percentage (.747). Heath is at or near the top in nearly every statistical category among the Johnny Bench Award Semifinalists.
Heath is also rated the No. 3 catcher in the nation on Rivals.com weekly power rankings, only trailing Grandal and LSU's Micah Gibbs for the distinction of top catcher in the country.
In 24 Big Ten games, Heath is batting .400 with an incredible 1.306 OPS (.495 on-base and .811 slugging). He posted a 19-game hitting streak this season, tied for fourth in school history, while also reaching base safely in a team-high 26 straight games. In total, he reached base in 49 of his 51 games, including all 24 in conference play.
Snyder earned third team laurels while also being named a unanimous selection to the All-Freshman Squad. He impressed down the stretch as the No. 2 hitter for the majority of conference play, recording multiple hits in 13 of his 21 Big Ten starts which included a streak of seven straight multi-hit games spanning Apr. 24 through May 7 with a total of 22 hits in that span.
The true freshman was named Big Ten Player of the Week on May 3 following a stellar weekend vs. Michigan State in which he hit .667 (10-for-15). He was also one of only 16 players on the College Baseball Foundation's National All-Star Lineup that week.
Overall, Snyder hit .355, including a team-leading .419 in conference play. He raised his average nearly 100 points over the last two months, going 32-for-69 (.464) over his final 15 games of the season.
Second on the team in stolen bases, Snyder swiped 12 bags, including nine in conference play. He also had four triples, within two of tying the single-season school record.
The Nittany Lions' six-game Big Ten winning streak coincided with Snyder's placement in the No. 2 hole, hitting behind Searer who was leading off. The two formed an impressive duo at the top of the order, helping spark plug a lineup which scored 87 runs over its six-game streak, good for 14.5 per game.
Searer, who hit .341 on the season with 20 RBI and 34 runs scored, joins Snyder on the All-Freshman Team. The redshirt freshman started the season as a backup infielder, but quickly earned a spot in the lineup. An extremely versatile freshman, he started 25 games in right field, two in left and 14 at second base. He also batted in six different spots in the order: leadoff (18), second (6), sixth (1), seventh (3), eighth (11) and ninth (2).
He recorded multiple hits in 10 Big Ten games, including Apr. 24 at Ohio State where he tied a school record with five hits. Searer also recorded a 17-game hitting streak, second longest on the team and eighth in school history. His on-base streak reached 25 games, also second on the squad.
Searer reached base in 40 of his 43 games in which he recorded an at-bat.
A four-year starter, Picconi was named the team's sportsmanship honoree. A co-captain this season, he was a strong leader both on and off the field. He finished his career with 113 career hits, highlighted by his 100th which left the yard at Ohio State for his first-career home run, a grand slam.
Baseball camp information is now available. Call the Sports Camp Office at (814) 865-0561 or email them at SportCampInfo@outreach.psu.edu for more information.
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