May 28, 2014
The Golden Gopher baseball program capped off the season with a team banquet held in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium Tuesday night. First-year letterwinners received their M jackets, outgoing seniors received their M Club pins and team awards were presented.
Teammates and coaches voted Tony Skjefte the Richard "Chief" Siebert Most Valuable Player. The junior led the team with 30 RBIs and 15 doubles. He batted .272, scored 22 runs and hit two home runs. Skjefte mainly played third base, but also spend time in the outfield and at second.
Second baseman Connor Schaefbauer earned the Paul Molitor Batting Champion Award after hitting .287 as a sophomore in 195 at bats.
The David Winfield Pitcher of the Year was Alec Crawford. The senior led off Minnesota's rotation every weekend and went 4-2 with a 3.79 ERA. He struck out 67 batters and walked only 18.
Reliever Kevin Kray, who earned his Master's degree this year, was the recipient of the Paul Fortin Scholar-Athlete Award. He balanced a high credit load, student teaching and baseball during the season.
For his attitude and response to adversity in overcoming serious shoulder injuries, Dan Olinger received the David Chelesnik Jr. Award. Chelesnik was a pitcher who battled cancer before and during his time at Minnesota. He died on Labor Day 1984, but the Gophers honor his memory with this award commemorating his courage, determination and perseverance.
Redshirt sophomore pitcher Lance Thonvold was named Teammate of the Year for his positive attitude and unselfish support of the team.
Billy Soule and the Dugout Club presented the Dianne Olson-Ficenko Dugout Club Player of the Year Award to junior right-hander Ben Meyer. Dianne Olson-Ficenko was an administrative assistant who worked with Gopher baseball for 24 years before her death in a car accident. Meyer held a 2.39 ERA as a fixture in the rotation, led the team with 98 innings pitched and tied Crawford for the team lead in strikeouts.
Sophomore Dan Motl was named the George Thomas Most Improved Player. The centerfielder held a low batting average and sustained an injury early in the season, but improved his average to .283 by the end of the year and made important defensive plays for the Gophers.
Richard "Chief" Siebert Most Valuable Player - Tony Skjefte
Paul Molitor Batting Champion - Connor Schaefbauer
David Winfield Pitcher of the Year - Alec Crawford
Paul Fortin Scholar-Athlete - Kevin Kray
David Chelesnik Jr. Award - Dan Olinger
Teammate of the Year - Lance Thonvold
Dianne Olson-Ficenko Dugout Club Player of the Year - Ben Meyer
George Thomas Most Improved Player - Dan Motl
Gophers Adapt and Grow in Fresh Fall Format
A string of injuries to position players proved a blessing in disguise as Gopher Baseball changed up the format during fall ball and saw growth around the diamond.
Gophers welcome fans to six open scrimmage dates
As the fall practice season continues, Gopher Baseball can announce dates for six open scrimmages over the next three weeks.
Minor League Wrap-Up: Sept. 15
University of Minnesota alumni concluded their minor league seasons this week with several cracking postseason play.