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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

After roaring start, Coeur d’Alene’s Kyle Manzardo becomes first Washington State All-American since 2006

Kyle Manzardo follows through on a swing during Washington State’s game against Niagara on March 5. The Coeur d’Alene native was recently named a third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball. (Rod Commons)

The expectations placed on Kyle Manzardo were substantial almost as soon as the Coeur d’Alene native and Lake City High graduate arrived on Washington State’s campus more than a year ago.

In a news conference previewing the 2019 season, former Cougars coach Marty Lees labeled Manzardo, then a freshman, as someone who “would be one of the best hitters to ever come through Washington State.”

Manzardo took a giant leap toward that during his shortened sophomore season and was recently recognized by Collegiate Baseball as a third-team All-American.

A total of 81 college baseball players were named to the three All-American teams. Manzardo was one of 11 from the Pac-12 Conference. Collegiate Baseball’s National Player of the Year honor went to New Mexico State shortstop Nick Gonzales, who first-year WSU coach Brian Green recruited and mentored during his time in Las Cruces.

While it’s still too early to determine where Manzardo sits among WSU’s all-time greats, he is the first Cougar to earn All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball, one of the sport’s most popular publications, since 2006, when outfielder/pitcher Jared Prince and outfielder Jay Miller earned third-team honors.

No WSU infielder has been named an All-American since utility player Ray Hattenburg was named honorable mention in 1999. First baseman Casey Kelley was the last infielder to earn third-team honors, in 1998.

When the COVID-19 pandemic stopped WSU’s season, Manzardo had recorded at least one base hit in each of the team’s 16 games and owned the second-best batting average in the Pac-12 (.435). Manzardo’s seven doubles were tied for the conference lead and the former Spokane Expos standout was fourth with a slugging percentage of .694 and in runs scored (21).

“Manzo’s start, that type of consistency, you don’t see that very often,” Green said last month during a virtual forum chat with The Spokesman-Review’s Northwest Passages. “… The story about Manzo is number one, he works. And he works and he’s blue collar. He’s the guy that walks into the cage with the flannel and the beanie. He’s the first guy to hit and he’s the last guy to leave and he does it every day. He doesn’t do it for show, he does it because he wants to get better.”

If Manzardo has a base hit in WSU’s 2021 season opener, his hitting streak will have stretched across three seasons, having recorded two hits and three RBIs in the final game of his freshman season. Manzardo’s 17-game hitting streak is tied for the sixth longest in program history

After going 10 for 18 from the plate with 11 runs scored, two doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs during WSU’s four-game sweep of Niagara, Manzardo nabbed WSU’s first Pac-12 Player of the Week award since 2016.