WICHITA, Kan. – UCLA junior catcher Tyler Heineman has been selected as one of 12 semifinalists for the 2012 Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com, as announced Wednesday by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission.
The Johnny Bench Award honors the nation’s best collegiate catcher at the conclusion of each season. This year’s award will be presented in Wichita, Kan., on June 28.
Heineman, who hails from Pacific Palisades, Calif., ranks second on UCLA’s team and eighth in the Pac-12 Conference with a .359 batting average. His .463 on-base percentage is second highest on the team, behind Jeff Gelalich (.473), and ranks third in the Pac-12.
Heineman has hit safely in 39 of 47 games and enters this weekend’s Pac-12 series at California carrying a modest six-game hitting streak. In addition, he has totaled one home run, 24 RBI and 35 runs.
Among UCLA’s most valuable assets this season, Heineman has thrown out 15 of 35 attempted base stealers (42.9 percent). The switch-hitting catcher played in just 37 games (14 starts) the previous two seasons before assuming UCLA’s starting catcher duties this spring.
The other 11 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award include Derrick Chung (Sacramento State), Zachary Fisher (New Mexico State), Tucker Frawley (Coastal Carolina), Mitchell Garver (New Mexico), Joe Hudson (Notre Dame), Jeremy Lucas (Indiana State), Josh Ludy (Baylor), Jeff Melillo (Rutgers), Kevin Plawecki (Purdue), Jeremy Schaffer (Tulane) and Mike Zunino (Florida).
UCLA opens a three-game Pac-12 series at California on Friday afternoon. Game time at Evans Diamond in Berkeley, Calif., is 2:30 p.m. The Bruins and Golden Bears continue their series Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.