May 30, 2012
The Minnesota baseball program honored its seniors and announced its 2012 team awards at the annual season-ending banquet on Tuesday, May 29, in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Golden Gophers gave out eight awards, including the Richard "Chief" Siebert Most Valuable Player, the Dianne Olson-Ficenko Dugout Club Player of the Year, the Paul Molitor Batting Champion, the Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year, the Paul Fortin Scholarship/Athlete Award, the George Thomas Most Improved Player Award, the David Chelesnik Scholarship Award and the Teammate of the Year Award.
Junior outfielder Andy Henkemeyer, who was a third-team All-Big Ten selection, claimed the Richard "Chief" Siebert Most Valuable Player. The Sauk Rapids, Minn., native held the team's second-best batting average at .314. Holding the Gopher leadoff spot in the second half of the season, Henkemeyer turned it up in the last month of the season when he hit .367. Leading the team with 86 total bases, Henkemeyer also held a team-best 65 hits and ranked second in RBI production (27). Hitting in the top two lineup spots the majority of the season, he led the team with 31 runs scored. The only Gopher to play in all 56 games this season, Henkemeyer started in 50 and held the most at bats (207). Posting a team-best 20 multiple-hit games, he also held the team's second-longest hit streak of the season (12).
Dan Olinger was the Paul Molitor Batting Champion this season, which goes to the Gopher with the highest batting average. Starting and playing in 54 of 56 possible games, Olinger held a team-best .318 batting average in his red-shirt sophomora campaign. Posting the team's second-best 201 at bats, Olinger 77 total bases, had a team-high 34 runs batted in and 13 doubles and scored 25 runs. Holding the team's second best in hits, (64), the Great Falls, Mont., native also reached base 13 times on walks.
Senior pitcher Austin Lubinsky won the Dianne Olson-Ficenko Dugout Club Player of the Year. As a senior, Lubinsky started in 14 games and held a 3.87 earned run average and a 4-4 record. Saving one of his best senior performances in his final Gopher start, Lubinsky allowed just five hits, two earned runs in 7.1 inning pitched against Illinois. Possessing two shutout games this season, Lubinsky finished his Gopher career with 36 starts, 194 strikeouts and 221.2 innings pitched. A constant team motivator in the dugout, Lubinsky also excels in the classroom as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
The Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year went to none other than Friday starter standout TJ Oakes. Earning First Team All-Big Ten honors, Oakes was also a third-team selection his sophomore and freshman seasons. In 14 starts for the Golden Gophers this season, Oakes held a 7-3 record and a 2.31 earned run average. Holding a sub 2.00 ERA a majority of the season, Oakes lowered his ERA every year (3.62 as a freshman, 3.26 his sophomore year). He led the Big Ten Conference in strikeouts looking (27), third in overall strikeouts (78), fourth in ERA and innings pitched (97.1). Named to the College Baseball Hall of Fame Watch List, Oakes received Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors in a 1-0 win over UW-Milwaukee in just his second start of the season. Pitching two of the Gophers' three complete games this year, Minnesota was 9-5 when he was on the mound. The award was presented to Oakes, by his dad and Gopher pitching coach, Todd Oakes.
Another pitcher to earn an award was Dustin Klabunde, who was honored as the George Thomas Most Improved Player Award. Saving his best season for his last, Klabunde appeared in 16 games and started in one, the final game at Siebert Field (5/1). Earning a save in the UW-Milwaukee game, it was his first of his career save. Battling back from a tough junior season, the Brownton, Minn., native held an ERA of 3.09. As a junior, Klabunde saw action in just five games. In his senior season, he improved to 32.0 innings pitched and bettered his five strikeouts in 2011 to 22 as a senior.
The David Chelesnik award is presented to an athlete who best demonstrates the special qualities of courage, determination and perseverance that were exhibited by David Chelesnik. The special scholarship is given in memory of an outstanding student-athlete who died of bone cancer on Labor Day, 1984, after completing one year of a lifelong dream - to play for the Golden Gophers. Seniors Kyle Geason and Trip Schultz were both honored with this award. After perserverance in both overcoming wrist injuries a majority of the season, the two remained constant leaders on and off the field. Schultz started in the Gophers' win over Louisville in the first game of the season and hit a home run against the Cardinals. Playing in five games to kick off the season, Schultz battled a wrist injury the majority of the season. He came back in his final game as a Golden Gopher against Illinois (5/19) and went 3-4 with a double, RBI and a run scored.
Geason was also honored with the Teammate of the Year Award, which given to the players whose attitude and actions most represent that team philosophy of the Golden Gophers program. The Gophers' starting third basemen for four years, Geason entered his senior season as a Big Ten Preseason Player to Watch. However, like Schultz, he suffered a wrist injury that sidelined him for 32 games this year. Geason, returned to the lineup in the Northwestern series (4/15) and would end the season wtih 92 at bats, four doubles, 12 runs scored and nine RBI.
The Paul Fortin Scholarship/Athletic Award was given to Troy Larson. Holding a 3.95 in genetics and cell biology, Larson was named an Academic All-District earlier this season. The Maplewood, Minn., native also holds one of the top grade point averages in the entire Gopher student-athlete body. On the field, Larson was also hampered by an injury this season. He still remained to hit .304 on the season, scored 22 runs and had 50 total bases.
Earning their first Gopher letters and awarded their letter jackets were Jake Bergren, Kyle Crocker, Drew Ghelfi, Michael Handel, Jordan Jess, Ty McDevitt, Tony Skjefte and student manager Mike Demianiuk.
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