PASADENA, Calif. - Butte College baseball player Connor Blair and Cerritos College tennis player Kseniia Prokopchuk were selected as California Community College Sports Information Association 2017-2018 State Athletes of the Year. The awards, voted on by members of the CCCSIA Executive Board, are in their seventh year of existence recognizing a top student-athlete from each gender. For the second straight year, the two winners came from sports not previously recognized for the awards.
CCCSIA 2017-2018 MEN'S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Connor Blair, Butte College, Sophomore, Outfielder, Baseball (Liberty High, Brentwood)
In one of the great power-hitting seasons ever by a California Community College player, Blair led the state in three hitting categories, including a staggering 21 home runs, 77 RBI, and a slugging percentage of .887 in just 44 games. He was eighth in the state in overall batting average at .411. The sophomore added 15 doubles and his 61 runs scored was No. 2 in the state.
Blair drew 32 walks and had 12 stolen bases to add to his many assets on offense. On five different occasions, he hit two home runs in a game. He reached base safely by hit or walk in all but one game that the Roadrunners played. Butte went 18-8 when Blair hit an extra-base hit, and was 7-11 when he did not. In the NorCal Regional Playoffs, Blair hit a clutch 3-run homer v. Sierra for the big blow in a 4-1 win in an elimination game. He then hit a 2-run blast in the next elimination game in the first inning before Sierra rallied to eliminate Butte.
Blair collected nearly every award possible including Rawlings All-American and the American Baseball Coaches Association Position Player of the Year, a national award for community colleges in its Pacific Division. He was the All-State Northern California Position Player of the Year, the Golden Valley Conference MVP, a GVC All-Academic Team selection, and made the All-State Defense Team.
Connor signed a playing scholarship with Pac-12 and NCAA Division 1 University of Washington.
Kseniia Prokopchuk, Cerritos College, Freshman, Tennis (School 45, Ukraine)
An international student from the Ukraine, Prokopchuk became just the fourth player in California Community College women's tennis history to win the Triple Crown by accomplishing CCCAA state individual titles in singles and doubles while also playing for the state team champion. The last person to accomplish the feat previously was 13 years ago by Orange Coast's Michelle Esquivel.
In the state team championship final, playing at #3 singles, Prokopchuk swept her De Anza opponent, 6-0, 6-0. Prokopchuck and doubles partner Lisa Suzuki went a perfect 30-0 in doubles matches in the 2018 season. They were also South Coast Conference doubles champions. Kseniia is part of a CCCAA first as her brother Alex also won the Triple Crown on the Cerritos men's side--a brother-sister feat never accomplished prior and likely never to be matched.
Prokopchuk won the singles title despite coming into the state tournament as the No. 6 seed. She was 31-2 in singles play for the season. The 20-year-old business administration major plans on returning for a second season with the Falcons. She said she would like to eventually transfer to UCLA.