CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (NCBWA) Five of college baseball's best relief specialists have been selected as finalists for the 11th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, as announced by the NCBWA on Wednesday. Two of the honorees are semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, the award given by the NCBWA to the nation's top player, and four have been named All-Americans.
This year's finalists are NCAA saves co-leader Ryan Meisinger of Radford along with David Berg of UCLA, Tyler Jay of Illinois, Brandon Koch of Dallas Baptist and Bryan Young of Missouri State.
Meisinger, who shares the national in saves with 17, garnered All-Big South first team and Big South All-Tournament honors this year, helping the Highlanders to Big South regular-season and tournament championships. The junior right-hander appeared in 31 games, recording 66 strikeouts with only 24 hits and eight walks allowed in 39.0 innings of work. Meisinger helped Radford to a historic season, reaching the NCAA Nashville Regional final and posting a school-record 45 wins with the first NCAA Regional berth in school history.
A semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, Berg earned Louisville Slugger first team All-America honors and was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year after posting 13 saves and a 7-1 record in 43 appearances, notching a 0.68 ERA and allowing just 49 hits and eight walks over 66 2/3 innings while striking out 65 batters. He leads the nation in pitching appearances, ranks third in ERA, seventh in WHIP, eighth in strikeout-to-walk ration and 11th in walks allowed per nine innings. He is one of only three players ever to earn four first team All-Pac-12 honors and contributed to the first no-hitter in UCLA history on May 15. Berg helped UCLA earn the No. 1 national seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and the Bruins reached the NCAA Los Angeles Regional final.
Jay was named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and a Louisville Slugger first-team All-American, and earned Big Ten Pitcher of the Year honors after helping Illinois earn a Big Ten regular-season championship and No. 6 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. Jay has 14 saves and a 5-1 record with a 0.60 ERA that ranks second in the nation in 60 1/3 innings over 29 appearances. He has allowed only 30 hits and seven walks while striking out 70, holding opponents to a .151 batting average. The junior left-hander leads the nation in WHIP (0.61) and hits allowed per nine innings (4.48), ranks fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.00) and ninth in walks allowed per nine innings (1.04). He notched a four-inning save in the NCAA Champaign Regional final on Monday, propelling the Fighting Illini into a super regional matchup against defending National Champion Vanderbilt.
Koch, a second-team Louisville Slugger All-American and first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection, helped Dallas Baptist to a 46-15 campaign that saw the Patriots host an NCAA Regional for the first time in school history. He ranks 10th nationally in saves with 14 and posted a 3-2 record with a 1.26 ERA. Koch pitched 43 innings over 26 appearances, allowing only 23 hits and walking 24 while striking out 76 and holding opponents to a .160 batting average. The junior right-hander helped DBU reach the NCAA Dallas Regional Final.
Young was named a Louisville Slugger third-team All-American and first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference and broke Missouri State's school record for saves, currently holding 16. That total also stands third nationally and the sophomore right-hander is 7-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 41 1/3 innings over 29 appearances, allowing only 30 hits and 14 walks while striking out 51 and holding opponents to a .199 batting average. Young has helped the Bears earn the No. 8 national seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and sweep through the Springfield Regional with a 3-0 mark, setting up an NCAA Super Regional against Arkansas.
The NCBWA's All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced Saturday morning, June 13, at a news conference at TD Ameritrade Park at 10 a.m. CT.
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 took the honor in 2010. Corey Knebel of Texas won in 2011, with Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012. UCLA's David Berg was the recipient of the award in 2013 and Louisville's Nick Burdi earned the honor in 2014.
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.