Three Cougs earn all conference honors

McKeon earns first team selection, Kaelber, Smith honorable mentions



WSU first baseman Jacob McKeon prepares to bat during an NCAA collegiate baseball game against Utah, April 1, at Bailey-Brayton Field.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

At the conclusion of the Pac-12 baseball regular season, the Pac-12 Conference announced their all-conference honors, as well as player and coach of the year. This year, three Cougs earned honors: one All-Conference Member and two honorable mentions.

Jacob McKeon: All-Conference

Junior Jacob McKeon is the third Coug in the last two seasons to earn an all-conference honor. Last season, Kyle Manzardo and Tristan Peterson both earned all-conference honors. 

McKeon finished 10th in the conference in hitting with a batting average of .348. He finished the season in second in hits for WSU with 56 and second in RBIs as well with 32. McKeon also had a team-leading home run total of seven. He did all this while drawing a team-leading 28 walks.

McKeon is from Phoenix, where he started his baseball career at Mountain Pointe High School. His collegiate play started at Central Arizona College, where he helped his team win a national championship.

He had 23 RBIs his freshman season during their championship year. He only played in 10 games his sophomore season due to an injury and the COVID-19 season. He then transferred to WSU where, in his first year with the Cougs in 2021, he appeared in 39 games, with 33 being a starter with an average of .345 with 40 hits and 29 RBIs.

Caden Kaelber: All-Conference Honorable Mention

Redshirt Junior pitcher Caden Kaelber earned an All-Conference honorable mention for his stellar pitching during the 2022 season. Kaelber pitched 42 innings for the Cougs and produced an ERA of 3.64 after allowing 34 hits and 21 runs.

He also struck out 37 batters and walked only 18. His seven saves for the Cougs this season were for fourth in the conference.

Kaelber is from Pasco, where he attended Chiawana High School. He first appeared as a freshman at Walla Walla Community College, where he appeared in only two games but struck out three batters in his four innings.

He then transferred to Spokane Falls Community College where he redshirted his first season, then appeared in only five innings due to the season being cancele because of the pandemic.

Last season was his first season at WSU, where he appeared in 22 games. He had a 4.08 ERA and recorded one save. His season-high for strikeouts in a game this season was six, which came in the Frisco Classic against the Wichita State Shockers in early March.

Jack Smith: All-Conference Honorable Mention

Senior infielder Jack Smith is the third Coug to earn conference accolades and the second Coug to earn All-Conference honorable mention. Smith had a batting average of .358, which tied him for sixth place in the conference.

Smith led WSU in hits with 69, RBIs with 36, doubles with 17 and total at-bats with 193.

Smith is from Mercer Island. He attended Mercer Island High School, where he won a state title his sophomore season. Smith earned honorable mentions for his league his sophomore and junior season and finally earned All-Conference Second Team his senior season.

He has spent all five of his collegiate seasons as a Coug. As a freshman, he played in 28 games, 15 of them as a starter. He had an eight-game hitting streak and produced 18 hits in the season. 

As a sophomore, he appeared in 29 games with 16 as a starter. He had seven RBIs and played nine games as a DH, as well as five at first base and a couple appearances at second base. 

During his junior season in 2020, he played in all 16 games and started 14 of them. The season was short due to the pandemic, but Smith still managed to produce 11 RBIs and hit .308. In 2021, he started all 49 regular-season games at third base. Smith hit .311 with 28 RBIs and 13 doubles.

Due to the pandemic, he gained an extra year of eligibility which he used to produce an All-Conference honorable mention-worthy season in 2022.