STARKVILLE, Miss. (NCBWA) University of Georgia relief
pitcher Joshua Fields is the 2008 recipient of the National Collegiate
Baseball Writers Association's Stopper of the Year Award, the NCBWA
Fields helped the Georgia Bulldogs (39-22-1) capture the 2008
Southeastern Conference baseball championship and made a pair of
game-closing relief appearances last weekend as Georgia claimed
the NCAA Athens Regional title. Georgia continues its quest for a College
World Series berth this weekend, hosting North Carolina State of
the Atlantic Coast Conference in the NCAA Athens Super Regional
at Foley Field.
The senior right-hander from Hull, Ga., has tallied 16 saves
and a 2-2 record with a 2.27 earned run average in 30 relief appearances.
The 2008 Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year has registered
56 strikeouts and held opposing hitters to a .112 batting average
while preventing any of the 13 runners he inherited from scoring.
Twelve of his 16 saves in 2008 came against conference competition.
In addition to his contributions on the mound, the semifinalist
for this year's Golden Spikes and Clemens Awards also appeared in
10 games as a batter, including six starts as a designated hitter.
A second-round pick of the Atlanta Braves and the 69th player
selected overall in the 2007 Major League Baseball draft, Fields
relied on a deep-seeded faith to direct his decision to return to
Georgia and complete his collegiate career.
"First of all, I'd like to thank Jesus Christ for the opportunity
to come back," said Fields. "I think He led me back. At first I
was nervous about returning for my senior year. I had a lot of questions
that went through my mind, like what if I get hurt?' But I truly
believe the Lord wanted me to come back
it's been very spiritual
for me. I've been blessed to have a great year and help lead our
team to this point in our season.
"I am thankful and honored to be receiving the National Stopper
of the Year Award, and I share it with my teammates. Without them,
I wouldn't be in a position to close out games. I've learned to
not worry as much and just have fun out there. For me, it's in the
Georgia head coach David Perno had praise for his hard-throwing
relief ace. "This is a well-deserved honor for Joshua, who is an
outstanding young man and one of our leaders," said Perno. "He made
his decision to come back for his senior season, to finish strong
and be a leader on and off the field. He's had a great year, and
has proven to be the nation's top closer, helping his team win the
SEC title and the Athens Regional. We're so happy it turned out
well for him."
Fields, a finalist for the for award as a sophomore in 2006,
topped the field of five finalists in this year's national voting,
including Scott Bittle of Mississippi, Tyler Conn of Southern Miss,
A.J. Griffin of the San Diego and Eric Pettis of UC Irvine. He enters
this weekend's NCAA Super Regional competition with an SEC-record
39 career saves, seventh-most in NCAA history.
Past recipients of the Stopper of the Year Award include J. Brent
Cox of Texas in 2005, Don Czyz of Kansas in 2006 and last year's
winner, Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State. 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
In addition to the Stopper of the Year Award, the NCBWA, founded
in 1962, also presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top
player and selects a Division I All-America Team, Division I and
III Players of the Week, Division I District Players of the year
and Division III Players of the year.
For additional information on the Stopper of the Year Award,
contact Joe Dier at Mississippi State University at 662-325-8040
or Russ Anderson at Conference USA at 214-774-1351.
2008 NCBWA Stopper of the Year key dates:
Thurs., Feb. 14: Watch List announced
Thurs., April 17: Midseason Watch List announced
Thurs., May 29: Stopper of the Year finalists
Wed., June 4: NCBWA Stopper of the Year announced