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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


NESCAC Baseball Player of the Year Steve Ragonese

MEDFORD -- Senior Steve Ragonese (Upper Saddle River, NJ) of the Tufts University baseball team is the New England Small College Athletic Conference's (NESCAC) Player of the Year for 2008 after putting together an impressive season offensively and defensively for the Jumbos. That honor, the first for a Tufts player since Dan Callahan in 2001, highlighted for Tufts the All-Conference honors released today.

Jumbos earned two of the four major conference awards, with freshman OF/DH Chase Rose (Scottsdale, AZ) selected as NESCAC Rookie of the Year. Trinity College, which was undefeated at 37-0 for the regular season, took the other two awards with senior Tim Kiely named Pitcher of the Year and Bill Decker voted Coach of the Year.

Ragonese produced 47 RBI in 32 games for the Jumbos, an average of 1.47 RBI per game that ranks among the top 20 in the NCAA Statistics. His .776 slugging percentage and 104 total bases, powered by 14 doubles, three triples and nine home runs, lead NESCAC through games of May 11. The 6'1", 210-pounder is also tied for the league led in hits (57) and tied for second in RBI, doubles and home runs. He ranks third among the conference's leaders for batting average (.425) and is sixth in runs scored (39). He hit four home runs with 16 RBI and 14 runs scored in 12 NESCAC East Division games. He is also on the All-NESCAC First Team for the second straight year.

After most of his contributions to the team came with the bat in his first three seasons, Ragonese played also play a major role defensively for Tufts. The starting right fielder last season, the team moved him to first base to start this season. An injury during the team's spring trip created a hole at first base, and the team asked Ragonese - an infielder in high school and an excellent athlete - to move over. Making 15 starts at second, 12 at first and five in the outfield, he handled 189 out of 199 total chances for an excellent .950 fielding percentage.

Rose was part of an excellent freshman class for Tufts coach John Casey and his staff this year. He was also one of the league's top offensive players, combining a .384 batting average with 28 walks (tied for second in the league) to post a .519 on-base percentage that is third-best in NESCAC. He also hit for production, with 33 RBI to rank among the conference's top 10. Also on the All-Conference 2nd Team, he is the first Jumbo Rookie of the Year.

Boding well for the future, Tufts has the only two freshman among the 23 players named to the All-NESCAC First and Second Teams. Pitcher Pat O'Donnell (Worcester, MA) joins Rose on the Second Team after an outstanding first season for the Jumbos. He pitched consistently well in the starting rotation and placed among the league leaders in some categories. His 62.2 innings worked, which included four complete games, is second among all conference pitchers, with Trinity players still adding to their totals in the NCAA Tournament. He posted a 6-2 record with a 3.02 earned run average, tied for fifth and seventh in the league, respectively. O'Donnell was the NESCAC's Pitcher of the Week after hurling a nine-inning, two-hit shut out of Williams on April 6.

Tufts finished the 2008 campaign with a 19-15 overall and 6-6 in the NESCAC East for second place.