BARSTOW • Three players at Barstow Community College are being recognized for being both top students and athletes.

Every year, the California Community College Athletic Association and California Community College Baseball Coaches Association compiles an Academic All-State Baseball Team. There are 89 CCC baseball programs statewide, and only 19 Academic All-State players are chosen.

At the end of the fall semester, BCC's Mike Karpel, who was last year's baseball coach and athletic director, nominated three of his players for the honor. As it turned out, all three have been named to the Academic All-State Team.

James Carraway, Mark Marinch and Gabriel Soto are the Vikings players chosen. All three were freshmen last year, and all are back with the Vikings this season.

It's quite an exclusive honor for both the players and for BCC, and something for all associated with the school to be proud of, according to Karpel.

 "We all should be very proud of these three young men, who have always represented our institution in a first-class manner on the field, off the field, and in the classroom," he said. "Essentially, these three young men encapsulate and embody what truly being a student/athlete is all about."

Carraway was named to the first team All-Foothill Conference at the end of last season, and this year was a preseason All-American selection. Academically, he earned an aggregate GPA of 3.82 last year. On the baseball field, he played in 35 games and had 38 hits, scored 17 runs and drove in 16 in 121 at-bats. Those hits included five doubles and a home run. He stole seven bases, had a .314 batting average and .380 slugging percentage, and defensively had five put-outs and six assists from the outfield.

Marinch is one of only two All-Academic players in the state that posted a perfect 4.0 GPA. While maintaining those high grades, he was also invaluable on the mound, serving as both a starter and reliever for the Vikings. He pitched 48 innings over 17 games with five game starts, allowing 26 earned runs, and walking 25 batters while striking out 33. He also got 13 at-bats, scored four runs and got one hit, a two-run homer.

Soto has earned a cumulative GPA of 3.62 at BCC. Baseball-wise, this season like last, he is both an offensive and pitching standout. He played in 28 games last year and batted .286, with 22 runs scored on 28 hits, and 12 RBI. He pitched 47 innings over 10 games, walked 17 and struck out 34, and had a 3.26 ERA. Soto had 19 assists between the mound and the outfield, and made just two errors.

Like the Vikings themselves, all three are off to good starts this season. Carraway is hitting at a .310 clip, with a double, two triples, and eight RBI. Marinch has pitched 16 innings and has a 1-0 record and 2.25 ERA. Soto picked up where he left off, on the mound and at the plate. He has a .415 batting average, with three triples, two home runs and four RBI, while sporting a 1-2 record, with nine walks against 27 strikeouts.

For those wanting to see these award-winning players in action, the Vikings are at home Thursday for a 2 p.m. start against Antelope Valley College.

"In my coaching career at Barstow College, I have coached several Academic All-State award winners, but we never had three selected in the same year. In addition, there were at least four other student/athletes on the baseball team that I carefully considered nominating and have all excelled extremely well in the classroom," said Karpel. "This sophomore class for the baseball team is collectively one of the most impressive group of young men on the field, off the field, and as students. I am very proud of them, and they all have a bright future ahead of them in life."