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Cougars Collect All-American, All-State & All-Conference Awards

Cougars Collect All-American, All-State & All-Conference Awards

The College of the Canyons baseball team has picked up an array of postseason awards in recent weeks, highlighted by a pair of All-American designations, three All-State and All-Region honorees, two Player of the Year distinctions and 10 All-Conference (WSC) selections.

Canyons had 10 players selected to the 2017 All-Western State Conference (WSC), East Division team, including Player of the Year Cole Kleszcz and Pitcher of the Year Justin Dehn.

COC head coach Chris Cota was also named WSC, East Coach of the Year after leading the Cougars to their first conference championship since the 2009 season. The title was the fifth overall under Cota. 

Canyons (28-14, 17-3) finished the season as the No. 20 ranked team in the state according to the California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) final poll. 

Helping to fuel that success was the dominant play of freshman center fielder Cole Kleszcz and sophomore hurler Justin Dehn

Kleszcz finished the season with a state-leading 18 home runs, while also leading the Cougars with a .410 batting average, 60 runs, 46 RBIs and .495 on-base percentage. The leadoff hitter also drew 25 walks and clubbed 20 doubles while playing in all 42 games.

Kleszcz has also been named to the 2017 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/ Rawlings Pacific Association Division (PAD) All-American First Team; the ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region First Team; and the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) Southern California All-State Team.

In addition, Kleszcz has been named the CCCBCA Southern California 'Big Stick' Award winner as the top offensive player in the region.

Dehn threw an even 87 innings for the Cougars recording a 6-2 record and team-best 2.79 ERA with 72 strikeouts in the process. The right-hander allowed just 27 earned runs on the season and tossed two complete games, including a 4-1 win vs. Santa Ana College in the opening round of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California Regional playoffs.

Dehn is a 2017 ABCA/PAD All-American Third Team selection, a CCCBCA Southern California All-State Team honoree, and was also named to the ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region First Team.

Joining Kleszcz and Dehn as All-WSC First Team honorees are sophomore catcher Anthony Lepre, freshman third baseman Calvin Estrada, sophomore right fielder Chris May and freshman pitcher Jacob Lopez.

Lepre was another key contributor for Canyons, launching 15 home runs to tie for the second best mark in the state. Lepre batted .337 on the season with 45 RBIs and 43 runs scored. He has been named a CCCBCA Southern California All-State team honoree and an ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region First Team selection.

Estrada finished the year with a .302 batting average, 28 RBIs, 44 runs and three home runs, including a walk-off shot vs. Glendale College to clinch the Cougars' WSC title.

May also had a big season, batting .375 with nine home runs, 42 RBIs and 39 runs scored. His .406 on-base percentage ranked second on the team.

Lopez went 4-3 across 11 starts for the Cougars with a 3.19 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 73 and 1/3 innings. 

All of COC's All-WSC First Team honorees were unanimous selections.

Earning All-WSC Second Team selections for the Cougars were sophomore designated hitter Kris Keach (.287, 18 RBIs, 14 runs), freshman left fielder Senituli Taufahema (.316, 6 RBIs, 18 runs) sophomore starting pitcher Chase Wheatcroft (8-2, 3.86 ERA, 48 Ks) and freshman reliever Connor Dreyer (3-2, six saves, 3.12 ERA, 24 Ks).

In addition, Kleszcz, Lepre and Dehn each picked up Gold Glove selections based on their play in the field.

A full listing of 2017 All-American, All-State, All-Region and All-Conference teams can be found here.

Team Information