Tony Renda’s stock just got another big boost.
Renda, a former Serra High baseball star, was named the 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year on Tuesday afternoon as he nears the end of a standout sophomore campaign at California.
Renda has received impressive accolades at each step of his career – he was a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American and a first-team All-Pac-10 selection last year, and was the 2009 West Catholic Athletic League MVP as a Serra senior – but he said his latest award is clearly “on top of ‘em all.”
“It’s awesome. I’m just really excited. I was surprised because I wasn’t expecting it,” Renda said. “This is a huge honor.
“The Pac-10 I think, and a lot of people think, is the best conference in the nation. To be Player of the Year among so many great players, it means a lot to me.”
Renda, Serra’s career leader in hits and runs, boasts a .330 batting average and ranks in the top 10 in five offensive categories in the Pac-10 as Cal heads to the NCAA Houston Regional this week. He has played in all 51 of the Bears’ games, and he leads the team with 73 hits and 38 RBIs.
Renda’s offensive production was better in most categories in his freshman year – including hitting .373 – but he said he has taken a big leap defensively this year in starting every game at second base.
Renda, who hit a two-run home run to lead Serra to its first Central Coast Section title in 11 years as a Padres senior, began his collegiate career at third base but said he was shifted to designated hitter as a freshman “because I wasn’t cutting it.”
Cal’s No. 3 hitter has also embraced the challenge of improving his weaknesses – “adjusting to the scouting report and beating the other team’s scouting report.”
Renda said “hard work” has been the calling card for a team that was destined to be eliminated next year because of the university’s budget cuts, only to be reinstated after a determined fundraising effort.
“It’s kind of been the story of our year,” said Renda, a 42nd-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers two years ago. “The hard work of our alumni got our program back. I’ve worked hard all my life, and to get this award, it’s great.”