Feb. 12, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Malcolm Gray
.pdf version
SEC leads list of 54 with eight nominees
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (NCBWA) – Fifty-four players have been named to the initial Watch List for the 14th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I Baseball, the association announced Monday.

Florida’s Michael Byrne, North Carolina’s Josh Hiatt and Oregon’s Kenyon Yovan were all finalists from a year ago for an award that was captured in 2017 by Louisville’s Lincoln Henzman.

The Southeastern Conference had the most representation with eight players finding their names on the watch list. That group is headlined by Byrne, who registered a nation-leading 19 saves while sporting a 1.67 ERA in 38 appearances. Hiatt (13 saves) is one of seven players from the Atlantic Coast Conference, while Yovan (15 saves) is one of four from the Pac-12.

More than a third of the players on this list recorded double-digit saves a season ago and 15 were named to the 2018 NCBWA Preseason All-American team. Five of those preseason All-Americans posted a sub-1.50 ERA’s last year in Louisville’s Sam Bordner (0.41 ERA, 16 saves), UIC’s Alex Padilla (0.45 ERA, 10 saves), Purdue’s Ross Learnard (0.58 ERA, 4 saves), Oregon State’s Jake Mulholland (1.20 ERA, 6 saves) and Cal State Fullerton’s Brett Conine (1.39 ERA, 15 saves).

In total, 18 conferences are represented on this list with at least two players coming from 12 different leagues. 

Louis Alvarado Nebraska Sr. Big Ten
T.J. Baker Ball State Jr. Mid-American
Sam Bordner Louisville Jr. ACC
Robert Broom Mercer Jr. Southern
Wyatt Burns Samford Sr. Southern
Michael Byrne Florida Jr. SEC
Andrew Cabezas Miami Jr. Atlantic Coast
Michael Clark Cal Poly Jr. Big West
Calvin Coker Auburn Sr. SEC
Brett Conine Cal State Fullerton Jr. Big West
Clark Cota UNC Wilmington Jr. Colonial Athletic
Jared Datoc Georgia Tech Sr. ACC
Naithen Dewsnap CSU Bakersfield Sr. Western Athletic
Tanner Driskill Lamar Sr. Southland
Durbin Feltman TCU Jr. Big 12
Aaron Fletcher Houston Jr. American Athletic
Jake Fromson Missouri State Sr. Missouri Valley
Ryley Gilliam Clemson Jr. ACC
Josh Hiatt North Carolina So. ACC
Connor Higgins Arizona State Jr. Pac-12
Daniel James UT Arlington Sr. Sun Belt
Kevin Kelly James Madison So. Colonial Athletic
Zach King Vanderbilt So. SEC
Ross Learnard Purdue Sr. Big Ten
Matt Lloyd, Indiana Indiana Jr. Big Ten
Chris Machamer Kentucky So. SEC
Erik Martinez California Sr. Pac-12
Mason McReaken SIUE Sr. Ohio Valley
Morgan McSweeney Wake Forest So. ACC
Nick Mikolajchak Sam Houston State So. Southland
Troy Montemayor Baylor Sr. Big 12
Jake Mulholland Oregon State So. Pac-12
Ryan Netemeyer Southern Illinois Sr. Missouri Valley
J.T. Newton Houston Baptist Jr. Southland
Joe O’Donnell N.C. State Sr. ACC
Alex Padilla UIC Jr. Horizon
Andrew Perez USF Jr. American Athletic
P.J. Poulin UConn Jr. American Athletic
Beau Ridgeway Texas Jr. Big 12
Chris Rivera Long Beach State Jr. Big West
Brian Rodriguez Northeastern So. Colonial Athletic
Jake Roehn Ohio Sr. Mid-American
Nick Sandlin Southern Miss Jr. Conference USA
Riley Self Mississippi State So. SEC
T.J. Sikkema Missouri So. SEC
Cason Sherrod Texas A&M Sr. SEC
Cody Smith Charleston Southern Sr. Big South
Nick Spear Mercer Jr. Southern
Tyler Sparks Stephen F. Austin Jr. Southland
Dylan Thomas Hawaii So. Big West
Bryce Tucker UCF Jr. American Athletic
Dallas Woolfork Ole Miss Jr. SEC
Kenyon Yovan Oregon So. Pac-12
Braden Zarbnisky, West Virginia West Virginia Jr. Big 12

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 and Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007. Georgia’s Joshua Fields topped the field in 2008, San Diego State’s Addison Reed grabbed the honor in 2009 and Texas’ Chance Ruffin earned the honor in 2010. The Longhorns’ Corey Knebel won in 2011, with Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012. UCLA’s David Berg was crowned the winner in 2013, Louisville’s Nick Burdi took home the 2014 honor and Berg became the award's first two-time winner in 2015. Miami (Fla.)’s Bryan Garcia was honored as the 2016 recipient followed by the Cardinals’ Henzman in 2017.

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, II and III Players of the Week and Division I, II and III Players of the Year.

2018 NCBWA Stopper of the Year key dates:
Mon., Feb. 12: Preseason Watch List
Thu., April 26: Midseason Watch List
Wed., June 6: Stopper of the Year finalists announced
Sat., June 16: Stopper of the Year winner announced