Players Honored

University of Alabama juniors Wade LeBlanc and Emeel Salem and senior Kody Valverde were named to the 2006 Pro Line Cap/National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association All-America team, in an announcement made by NCBWA Executive Director Bo Carter on Tuesday.

LeBlanc and Salem were named Second-Team All-American by the NCBWA, while Valverde was a Third-Team All-American selection.

LeBlanc finished the season with an 11-1 record and 2.92 ERA in 18 starts this season for the Crimson Tide. He worked 129 1/3 innings and allowed 110 hits, 47 runs and 42 earned runs, with 43 walks and 128 strikeouts.

He set UA single-season records for innings pitched (129 1/3) and strikeouts (129) this season. He broke Lance Cormier's record of 129 innings pitched previously set in 2002. LeBlanc also broke the single-season strikeout record (118) previously held by Bobby Sprowl in 1977. He is also Bama's all-time strikeout leader with 334 career strikeouts.

Salem had a banner year for the Crimson Tide. He led UA with a .356 (101-for-284) average, with two home runs and 32 RBI from the leadoff spot in the order. Salem also led UA with 67 runs scored and 36 stolen bases this season.

A First-Team All-SEC selection, Salem was also named to the College Baseball Foundation All-America team and was Second-Team All-American by Louisville Slugger and Collegiate Baseball. Salem was also a First-Team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America selection and was named to the SEC Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was also named to the 2006 SEC Good Works team for his community service.

Valverde had his best season in 2006, as he hit .347 (76-for-219) with 12 home runs and 59 RBI. He led the Crimson Tide in home runs and was second in hitting and RBI. He was a Second-Team All-SEC selection by the league's head coaches.

The senior was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2006 NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional as he led the Crimson Tide to its sixth NCAA Regional championship with wins over Jacksonville State and Troy. He batted .714 (10-for-14) in the three games, with one double, one home run and eight RBI. Valverde hit a grand slam, the first of his career, in Bama's 13-1 win over Jax State in the opening round. His two-out, ninth inning single gave the Tide a 4-3 win in game two. He tied an Alabama single-game record with five hits in the 14-5 win over Troy in the championship game.

Valverde was a 10th round draft pickoff the San Diego Padres last week and has signed to play with the Padres. He has been assigned to the Eugene (Oregon) Emeralds of the short-season Northwest League and will begin his pro career on Tuesday, June 20.

2006 NCBWA ALL-AMERICAN TEAMS
FIRST TEAM
Pos. Name, School
B Andy D'Alessio, Clemson
2B Jim Negrych, Pittsburgh
3B Ronnie Bourquin, Ohio State
SS Tom King, Troy
C Michael McKenry, Middle Tennessee
OF Tyler Colvin, Clemson
OF Jacob Dempsey, Winthrop
OF Kellen Kulbacki, James Madison
DH/ATH Brad Lincoln, Houston


Pitchers
Pos. Name School SP Eddie Degerman, Rice
SP Tim Lincecum, Washington
SP Andrew Miller, North Carolina
SP Wes Roemer, Cal State Fullerton
RP Don Czyz, Kansas
RP Cole St.Clair, Rice


SECOND TEAM
Pos. Name, School 1B Ryan Strieby, Kentucky
2B Eric Sogard, Arizona State
3B Zach Daeges, Creighton
SS Ryan Khoury, Utah
C Jake Smith, East Carolina
OF Luke Gorsett, Nebraska
OF Shane Robinson, Florida St
OF Emeel Salem, Alabama
DH/ATH Sean Doolittle, Virginia


Pitchers Pos. Name School
SP Dallas Buck, Oregon State
SP Nick Chigges, Coll. of Charleston
SP Lauren Gagnier, Cal State Fullerton
SP Wade LeBlanc, Alabama
SP Jake Arrieta, TCU
RP Kevin Gunderson, Oregon State
RP Vinnie Pestano, Cal State Fullerton
RP Joshua Fields, Georgia


THIRD TEAM (Ties in voting)
Pos. Name, School
1B Craig Cooper, Notre Dame
1B Chad Huffman, TCU
2B Ramon Corona, N.C. State
3B Evan Longoria, Long Beach State
3B Marc Maddox, Southern Miss
SS Zack Cozart, Ole Miss
SS Chris Minaker, Stanford
SS Zach Penprase, MS Valley State
C Sean Coughlin, Kentucky
C Kody Valverde, Alabama
OF Michael Epping, New Orleans
OF Cole Gillespie, Oregon State
OF Drew Holder, Dallas Baptist
OF Ben Saylor, BYU
OF Drew Stubbs, Texas
DH/ATH Joe Savery, Rice
DH/ATH Damon Sublett, Wichita State

Pitchers
Pos. Name School
SP Tyler Chambliss, Florida State
SP Josh Cribb, Clemson
SP David Price, Vanderbilt
SP Nick Schmidt, Arkansas
SP Tony Watson, Nebraska
SP Alex Wilson, Winthrop
RP Daniel Best, Southern Miss
RP Milan Dinga, Army
RP Andrew Urena, Mercer


Tide's Joseph Sykora Voted ESPN Academic All-America

Sporting a 4.0 grade point average and 74.97 stroke average, the University of Alabama's Joseph Sykora has been named to the 2006 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America At-Large team.

The Daphne native was a 2005 United States Amateur participant. He is a junior at Alabama but just finished his sophomore season on the golf team. He was a red shirt as a true freshman in 2003-04. Sykora is majoring in business and made it into arguably the most difficult category for a student-athlete to make the Academic All-America team. Unlike single sport Academic All-America teams where student-athletes are only competing on a ballot against others in their own respective sport, student-athletes from 11 different sports are eligible in the at-large category. Only a total of 16 are named Academic All-America.

Sykora, who in April was named the 2006 Southeastern Conference Men's Golf Scholar-Athlete of the Year, has helped power Alabama to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in golf. He advanced to match play at the 2005 U.S. Amateur where, in the second round of match play, he drew his Alabama teammate, Matthew Swan. Sykora won the 2002 Future Masters Championship as a golfer at Mobile's UMS-Wright.

Sykora was one of four award winners with a perfect 4.0 GPA. The award is voted upon by the membership of the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association.


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