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December 20, 2011

Big honors come in small package



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As junior left-hander Justin Jones is so fond of saying, he doesn't know why people think so little of 5-foot-8, 173-pound junior second baseman Tony Renda. At least, Collegiate Baseball, for one, thinks he's one of the best players in the country.

Already tabbed the preseason No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball the California baseball team received its latest preseason honor on Tuesday, when Renda -- who as a sophomore was the 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year and helped the Bears to the College World Series -- has been selected to another preseason All-America team.

Collegiate Baseball tabbed Renda as a second-team 2012 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American, announced on Tuesday.

On Dec. 14, Renda and Jones were named preseason All-Americans by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Renda was selected a second-team preseason All-American by the college baseball writers, while Jones was a third-team pick. The two players were instrumental in Cal enjoying its best season in 31 years, culminating in a fifth-place finish at the 2011 College World Series.

Last season, Renda became only the fourth player in Cal baseball history to earn conference player of the year honors, and was a member of the Houston Regional All-Tournament Team. He finished 2011 batting .332 and a team-best .348 versus Pac-10 competition, with 14 doubles, two triples, three home runs and a team-leading 44 RBI. Renda also led the Pac-10 with 88 hits and was third in the conference with 115 total bases.

Cal, under the direction of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's 2011 National Coach of the Year David Esquer, finished the 2011 campaign 38-23 overall and advanced to NCAA postseason for the third time in the last four years.

The Bears captured the Houston Regional with a thrilling, 9-8, victory over Baylor with four runs in the bottom of the ninth, capped by Devon Rodriguez's game-winning two-run single. Cal then swept through a best-of-three series with Dallas Baptist in the Super Regional, to advance to the College World Series. In the CWS, Cal dropped a close 4-1 decision to top-seeded Virginia before defeating Texas A&M, 7-3, for its first win in Omaha since 1980. The memorable season came to an end with an 8-1 loss to the Cavaliers June 23.

The Bears begin the 2012 campaign with a three-game series versus Pacific, Feb. 17-19, hosting the Tigers Feb. 17 (1:30 p.m.) and Feb. 19 (1 p.m.) at Evans Diamond, while traveling to Stockton Feb. 18 for a 1 p.m. game at Klein Family Field.


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