NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Cal State Northridge freshman Jerry Keel was selected as the Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year and named to the All-Big West Second Team, the conference office announced Tuesday afternoon. Senior designated hitter Steven Keller earned an Honorable Mention for his work in his final season for the Matadors as well.
"I feel very honored to win this award," said Keel. "This year there was a really good group of freshmen pitchers that easily could have won it. I also feel that this is a stepping stone in my collegiate career that I look forward to building on next year."
Keel, a Palmdale, Calif. native, finished his first campaign with a 6-3 record and an astounding 2.07 ERA, a figure that placed him second in the Big West Conference and in a tie for 35th in all of NCAA Division I. He made 16 appearances on the mound, including 13 starts, and struck out 48 batters in 91.1 innings.
"We are very proud of Jerry's accomplishments this season," said head coach Matt Curtis. "He gave us the chance to win each week, which is tremendous in the Big West Conference. We are proud of his hard work and the improvement each week in his conditioning and technique. We hope he continues to be a mainstay in the rotation for the coming years."
Keel made his debut for the Matadors in relief on February 18 at Sacramento State. In 6.0 innings of work, he recorded four strikeouts and allowed one run. He earned his first collegiate victory in his first start in a game against Northwestern as CSUN was able to complete a three-game sweep of the Wildcats.
In the freshman's first game against Big West opposition, Keel went the distance and struck out three in a complete-game victory on the road at then-No. 13 Cal State Fullerton. After a first-inning run, Keel shut down the Titans the rest of the way to lead the Matadors to victory.
Keel also earned wins at UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside, the latter performance helping Northridge win a road conference series for the first time since 2004 and a series over the Highlanders for the first time since 2002.
Following the outing at Riverside in which he set a career high with six strikeouts, Keel struck out six in 7.2 innings in a win over UC Irvine, the program's first positive result against the Anteaters since 2008. In conference play, Keel finished the year with a 4-2 record, two complete games and a 2.40 ERA.
Keller, a senior from Agoura, Calif., picked up an Honorable Mention for his work with the Matadors this season. As the team's designated hitter, Keller finished the year with a .287 batting average and was second on the team with five home runs.
In a neutral-site game against the University of San Diego, Keller provided all of the run production in a 4-3 win as he connected for two home runs and four RBIs. On the year, he had a multiple hit game six times.
In the home series against UC Davis, Keller hit two home runs and tallied five RBIs. On Senior Day at Matador Field, his three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth broke a tie and helped Northridge capture a 6-3 win over the Aggies.
In conference action, Keller hit .284 with six doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs.