FROM NCBWA RELEASE
Irvine, Calif. (NCBWA) — Five of college baseball’s top relief specialists have been selected as finalists for the sixth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, the NCBWA announced Wednesday.
This year’s finalists include NCAA saves leaders Kevin Arico of Virginia and Neil Holland of Louisville, along with Chris Dennis of Portland, Chance Ruffin of Texas and Jordan Swagerty of Arizona State.
Arico, with an NCAA-tying 16 saves, set a single-season school record for the Cavaliers and earned ACC First Team All-Conference honors. He is 1-1 this season with a 2.93 earned run average. In 27.2 innings pitched, Arico has recorded 38 strikeouts and seven walks.
Holland, also owning an NCAA-tying 16 saves, helped the Cardinals clinch their second straight BIG EAST regular season title and capture their first-ever national seed in the NCAA Tournament. In 51.1 innings pitched, the right-hander from Owensboro, Ky., holds an impressive 8-0 record and has allowed 12 earned runs while striking out 52 and carrying a 2.10 ERA.
Dennis, registering a 5-1 record, finished the season with a 1.88 earned run average and 51 strikeouts over his 43.0 innings of work. The Bothell, Wash. native allowed just nine earned runs and 11 walks.
Ruffin, a Golden Spikes semifinalist, leads the nation with a minuscule 0.77 ERA. He owns a 6-1 record and 13 saves and has fanned 89 batters in just 58.1 innings. He earned his third consecutive All-Big 12 honor this season after being named to the first team.
Swagerty, pacing the Pac-10 with 14 saves, assisted in Arizona State grabbing the conference title and the overall No. 1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. In 29.2 innings of work, the Sachse, Texas, native owns a 2.12 ERA with 10 walks and 39 strikeouts.
More than 50 of the nation’s top collegiate relief pitchers were included in the selection process for this year’s NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award, beginning with initial preseason nominations by baseball contacts at NCAA Division I schools.
The NCBWA’s All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year’s recipient to be announced on Saturday, June 19, the opening day of the 2009 College World Series.
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, Georgia’s Joshua Fields topping the field in 2008 and San Diego State’s Addison Reed grabbing the honor last season.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation’s top player. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I and III Players of the Week, Division I District Players of the Year and Division III Players of the Year.
For more information on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, contact Julie St. Cyr at the Big West Conference at 949-261-2525 or Russ Anderson at Conference USA at 214-774-1300.