NCBWA Names Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List

FROM NCBWA RELEASE
NCBWA LogoBirmingham, Ala. (NCBWA) — Forty players have been named to the initial watch list for the fifth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball, as announced by the association Tuesday.

With two of the finalists for the 2008 honor back for another season (Scott Bittle of Ole Miss and Eric Pettis of UC Irvine), as well as an impressive list of All-Americans, another exciting race for this year’s Stopper of the Year Award is anticipated. Georgia relief ace Joshua Fields, a first-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners and the Southeastern Conference’s all-time saves leader, claimed last year’s award. Nine of this year’s nominees were included in the 2009 NCBWA Preseason All-America Team announced by the organization in December.

The Atlantic Coast Conference led the way with nine players named to the preseason watch list. The Big 12 and the West Coast Conference added four pitchers each on this year’s watch list, while the SEC and Pacific-10 Conference are represented by three players each.

Nominations for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award were made by baseball sports information/media relation contacts. The initial list will be updated with a mid-season release the week of April 16, including the national saves leaders. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Division I national saves leader and four other relief pitching standouts will be selected as finalists and released Wednesday, May 27, prior to start of NCAA regional tournament competition.

The NCBWA’s All-America Committee will then select the winner, with this year’s recipient to be announced in early June.

Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006, Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007 and Fields topping the field in 2008.

The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation’s top player. It also selects a Division I All-America Team, Division I Freshman All-Americans, Division I and III Players of the Week, Division I District Players of the Year and Division II and III Players of the Year. For more information on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, contact Chuck Dunlap at the Southeastern Conference at 205-458-3000 or Russ Anderson at Conference USA at 214-774-1351.

2009 NCBWA STOPPER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST

PITCHER SCHOOL YR
Colin Bates North Carolina So.
Michael Belfiore Boston College Jr.
Kyle Bellamy Miami (Fla.) Jr.
Scott Bittle Ole Miss Sr.
Louis Coleman LSU Sr.
Zach Calhoon UT-San Antonio Jr.
Jordan Conley Xavier Sr.
Joey Cutler NC State Sr.
Chase Dempsay Houston So.
Matt Evers Rice So.
Nick Gaudi Pepperdine Sr.
Jake Geglein Cincinnati Sr.
Jimmy Gillheeney NC State Jr.
AJ Griffin San Diego Jr.
Jake Hale Ohio State Sr.
Stephen Harrold UNC Wilmington So.
Alex Hassan Duke Jr.
James Hayes Rider Sr.
Brendan Lafferty UCLA Sr.
Greg Lane Binghamton Sr.
Cody Martin Gonzaga So.
Alex McRee Georgia Jr.
J.D. Melton Navy Jr.
Brian Moran North Carolina Jr.
Matt Packer Virginia Jr.
Eric Pettis UC Irvine Jr.
Kevin Rhoderick Oregon State So.
Thomas Rooke Kansas State So.
Thain Simon Santa Clara So.
Paul Smyth Kansas Sr.
Travis Smink VMI Jr.
Jimmy Stanley Belmont Sr.
Travis Starling Texas A&M Jr.
Jason Stoffel Arizona Jr.
Drew Storen Stanford So.
Josh Storm Troy Sr.
Daniel Tenholder Austin Peay Jr.
Kyle Thebeau Texas A&M Sr.
Matt Vaughn Clemson Sr.
Derek Ward UL-Monroe Sr.