May 22, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Senior designated hitter Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) and junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) were each announced as All-BIG EAST selections by the conference at Bright House Field on Tuesday night, with Fleishman receiving first team honors while Sciacca was named to the second team. Both players were part of a Villanova offense that ranked among the best in the league this season.
"I speak for myself and the entire Villanova coaching staff when I say that I was very excited to see both Matt and Tyler voted to the All-BIG EAST teams," Godri said. "The two of them, along with [senior third baseman] Kevin Wager, were the leaders of our offense the entire season and they are tremendously deserving of this recognition."
This is the second time in the last three years that the Wildcats have had two hitters named all-conference and Fleishman is only the second player in 11 years under head coach Joe Godri to be named a first team honoree. Godri has now had a total of 19 all-conference selections during his time as head coach.
Fleishman and Sciacca each started in all 55 games for Villanova this season and were the focal points of a revamped offense that never let up throughout the season. As a team the Wildcats batted .289 with a .377 on-base percentage for the season.
"Beyond rewarding Matt and Tyler for the terrific seasons they had, their selections as All-BIG EAST player is recognition for the hard work that both of them, along with our assistant coaches, have put in during the course of the entire year," Godri said. "It is very gratifying to see them honored for their work both on and off the field."
Fleishman is the only player on the Wildcats roster who has started in every team game the past two years. This season he batted .320 with a .390 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage. His .500 slugging percentage was tops on the team and he also led Villanova with 45 runs scored, 17 doubles and five home runs. At the end of the regular season Fleishman ranked among the BIG EAST leaders in runs scored, runs batted in, doubles, triples, total bases and slugging percentage.
It was apparent from the very beginning of the 2012 campaign that Fleishman was destined to have a special year. He was the lone hitter for the Wildcats to hit safely in all three games of a season-opening series at nationally-ranked Arkansas and he made a name for himself by hitting a grand slam in the season opener. Shortly after the series Fleishman put together a 22-game streak of reaching base safely from February 25-March 27; during the streak he batted .432 with 38 hits and a .490 on-base percentage.
Fleishman played just three seasons at Villanova after transferring from Western New England College but he still wound up his Wildcats career as one of the top hitters in the history of the program. He hit 43 doubles at Villanova and is tied for fifth place in school history in that category, while also ranking in a tie for second place in the record books with 11 career triples. Fleishman played in 139 games for the Wildcats - starting every single one of them - and batted .312 with 171 hits, 109 runs batted in and a .502 slugging percentage.
While the accomplishments for Fleishman this season were built off of a strong 2011 season the performance that Villanova got from Sciacca may have been even more impressive. Sciacca missed the entire 2011 season with a shoulder injury but returned this year to start in all 55 games while leading the team in batting.
Sciacca hit a team-best .359 for the season and compiled a .430 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage. He scored 43 runs and had 39 runs batted in while totaling 16 doubles, a BIG EAST-leading six triples and one home run. He also led the Wildcats with 17 stolen bases and 24 walks while tying Wager for the team lead with 79 hits.
In the final regular season BIG EAST stats Sciacca ranked fifth in batting average and 11th in slugging percentage while leading the league in triples and ranking among the conference leaders in runs, hits, doubles, total bases and stolen bases.
At one point during the season Sciacca put together a 15-game hitting streak from March 10-31, the longest hit streak on the team all season. He was nearly impossible to get out during the streak, during which he batted a torrid .508 with a .754 slugging percentages. He racked up 11 multi-hit outings in the 15 games and had seven doubles and four triples during the streak. Even before that streak began Sciacca had his best day of the year at the plate when he hit for the cycle against Chicago State, incredibly needing just five innings to accomplish the feat.
Sciacca has played in 140 games with 124 starts over three seasons for Villanova and has a year or remaining eligibility on the diamond. To this point in his collegiate career he is a .314 hitter with a .399 on-base percentage and a .425 slugging percentage, including career totals of 83 runs scored, 72 runs batted in and 29 stolen bases.
The plate isn't the only place where Sciacca makes an impact, as his defense at second base is also top notch. He committed just six errors in 302 chances in the field this season and finished the year with a .980 fielding percentage, while also ranking second in the BIG EAST with 165 assists.
Postseason awards, including the All-BIG EAST teams, were announced by the league on Tuesday night on the eve of the conference tournament, which begins on Wednesday morning. The first team selections announced at Bright House Field included at least one player from 10 of the 12 conference teams, with only Notre Dame and West Virginia not having a first team selection.
NOTES: The selections of Fleishman and Sciacca are reminiscent of the 2010 season, when Matt Szczur was a first team All-BIG EAST pick from the Wildcats and Justin Bencsko earned third team honors ... Villanova players have now been named All-BIG EAST picks 60 times (29 first team, 16 second team, seven third team and eight all-rookie team).