Best Female Athlete:
Danielle Warde – It’s hard to go wrong when choosing between three stellar performances for the women’s water polo team and a multitude of record breakers on the women’s track team, but freshman water polo player Danielle Warde gets the edge.
In her first season of college water polo, Warde led the Anteaters to the NCAA Tournament, where they finished in fifth place. Her team-high 60 goals topped sophomore teammate Jessy Cardey’s 58 and senior Cortney Collyer’s 46. Warde also tied for second on the team with 25 assists and trailed just Collyer in steals with 32.
Warde’s offensive and defensive presence will be crucial if UC Irvine hopes to improve from Big West Champions to NCAA Champions sometime in her three remaining years of eligibility.
Best Male Athlete:
Matt Summers – The baseball team couldn’t have finished the regular season 39-16 without Summers’ arm. His no-hitter on Friday night was just the fourth in UCI history and the first since 2006. Filling the shoes of former ace and All-American Danny Bibona was a tall task, but Summers has made himself right at home on the mound at Cicerone Field.
Coming into the season having never thrown a complete game in his life, Summers converted from mop-up reliever and pinch hitter to the staff’s ace when starter Evan Brock learned that he’d be having season-ending arm surgery in the fall. Summers took the ball with a bulldog mentality and certainly earned his pinstripes, finishing the regular season with a meager 1.74 earned run average, a 10-2 record and 90 strikeouts.
With the College World Series Regionals around the corner, there’s no pitcher on Head Coach Mike Gillespie’s roster that he’d rather hand the ball to when the game is on the line. Summers has allowed just two hits in his last 18 innings.
With two outs in the ninth inning on May 27, the baseball team’s Matt Summers was one out away from a no-hitter. On a 2-2 count, Long Beach State’s left-handed pinch hitter fisted a blooper over third baseman Brian Hernandez’s head that threatened to fall in and ruin Summers’ parade. But as the ball fell from the sky just inside the third base chalk line, the webbing of shortstop D.J. Crumlich’s glove stretched out to coral the pop fly and secure the fourth no-hitter in UCI baseball history.
The team swarmed their pitcher at the mound, joined by their maniacal follower Super Fan – who had climbed under the netting, sprinting onto the field with his unruly mane flowing in the breeze and jumped into the celebratory pile with the boys in pinstripes. After the game, while talking to reporters, Summers was surprised by a teammate who sloshed a shaving-cream pie in his face.