Cook, Odenwaelder, Kasuga Collect Top NESCAC Honors

Contact: Matthew Hart

HADLEY, Mass. – Senior right-hander Bob Cook was named the 2013 NESCAC Pitcher of the Year, with outfielder Mike Odenwaelder grabbing Rookie of the Year honors and junior shortstop Taiki Kasuga earning Defensive Player of the Year as the Amherst College baseball team took three of the league’s five top postseason honors announced Friday.

Cook and Odenwaelder both earned spots on the All-NESCAC First Team while Kasuga was a second-team selection. Trinity senior first baseman Joe Papa was named the conference’s Player of the Year while Wesleyan skipper Mark Woodworth picked up Coach of the Year honors.

One day after earning a complete game victory against No. 3 SUNY Cortland in the NCAA Tournament, Cook was named the league’s top hurler, punctuating a dominant senior season for the Winnetka, Ill. native. After collecting 2012 NESCAC Player of the Year honors for his combined success on the mound and at the plate, Cook had an even stronger pitching season in 2013. The national leader in earned run average for much of the spring, his current 0.95 mark stands alongside a stellar 0.76 walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (WHIP) figure.

With 39 strikeouts and only eight walks over 66.2 innings pitched, Cook owns a 5-2 record, notably taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning of an April 5 win over Middlebury. Meanwhile, he has continued to star at the plate as well, playing first base when not pitching and posting a team-best .391 batting average and .506 on-base percentage over 86 plate appearances.

The only first-year named to either all-conference squad, Odenwaelder’s first team selection comes during the latter stages of a stellar rookie season. The Goshen, Conn. native leads the NESCAC with a .569 slugging percentage and five triples while also pacing Amherst in runs (35), home runs (3) and RBI (25).

Also hitting .350 with a .403 OBP and 10 stolen bases, Odenwaelder was red-hot down the stretch in the regular season, earning conference Player of the Week as he hit .500 over the Jeffs’ final five games heading into postseason play. In the NESCAC playoffs, his two-run game-tying home run in the eighth inning of Saturday’s Wesleyan contest dramatically shifted the tournament’s momentum toward Amherst.

Meanwhile, Kasuga was named the league’s top defender and a second-team All-NESCAC pick after posting a .940 fielding percentage in 184 chances. Among the league leaders in assists (119) and double plays (12), the shortstop’s leadership on the infield has helped Amherst’s pitching staff to a combined 3.20 ERA as he showcased his glovework with several sparkling plays in the NESCAC title game against Wesleyan.

Also a force at the plate, Kasuga has been a rock in the two-hole for Amherst, batting .347 while leading the team in hits (50) and stolen bases (14). The New York City native is the second consecutive Jeff to earn Defensive Player of the Year after catcher Mike Samela took the award in 2012.

Amherst remains the only NESCAC team still playing as the Jeffs look to continue their impressive run through the NCAA Regional Tournament Friday afternoon against No. 7 Ithaca. For more, check out our tournament blog.