By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
--Sun Devil Jacob Cruz, Six-Pac player of the year
One of the Sun Devils this year is a fifth-year player, Todd Delnoce. A onetime walk-on, Delnoce had expected to be at least a part-time starter this season. But early in the year, he injured his knee badly in a collision at second base.
This is his last season of college eligibility, and the 23-year-old Delnoce chose not to undergo reconstructive surgery until it ends. Instead, he worked fiendishly to rehabilitate the damaged knee and possibly help his team down the stretch.
In early April, Brock sent Delnoce into a game for the first time in two months. The crowd at Packard gave the player a warm ovation. Afterward, Brock told reporters that Delnoce was the toughest kid he'd ever coached.
Delnoce was moved to write the coach a letter.
"I got to look at the newspaper article about our win yesterday over the UofA," he wrote. "Like you always do, you had a very positive quote about me, saying that I'm 'the toughest kid I've ever been around.' Calling me the toughest thing you've been around is saying a lot considering the battle you are going through. It should be me saying that about you.
"I, along with everybody else on the team, admire and respect you for beating your illness and coming out to the Yard even though, God knows, you probably should be taking care of yourself. When you muster one of your postgame speeches ripping into someone, I think about how much you must be going through and how much strength it must take to be out there. It really motivates me. . . ."
Todd Delnoce ended his letter, "Take care and I'll see you at Packard." Jim and Pat Brock cried when they read it.