DALLAS (NCBWA) The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) released its National Player of the Week awards for the period ending March 31. Western Kentucky junior outfielder Jake Sanford was named National Hitter of the Week, while Kentucky junior left-handed pitcher Zack Thompson was named National Pitcher of the Week. The NCBWA Board reviews candidates from each Division I Conference each week and names winners each Tuesday throughout the season.
Sanford went 12-for-20 with two walks in three games vs. Charlotte and a midweek contest at Eastern Kentucky. He smacked five home runs and drove in 15 runs, while also scoring eight times. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, native produced a .600/.636/1.400 slash line for the week, helping the Hilltoppers go 3-0-1.
In Tuesdays 12-9 victory at Eastern Kentucky, Sanford went 3-for-6 with three home runs, eight runs batted in and four runs scored. He became the first WKU player to hit three homers in a game since Jordan Newton in 2006, and only the fourth C-USA hitter to do so since 2010. His eight runs batted in were the most by a Hilltopper since at least 2005 (when game-by-game records are available) and tied for the fifth-most in C-USA history. Sanford continued his tear over the weekend, going 9-for-14 against the 49ers · including back-to-back four-hit games to cap the series · with two home runs, seven RBI and four runs scored.
Sanford finished the month of March going 30-for-76 (.411) with eight walks for a .476 on-base percentage in 18 games. He hit 14 home runs and four doubles for a 1.041 slugging percentage, while scoring 26 runs and posting 34 RBI.
In last Friday's 5-0 win over Georgia, Thompson struck out a career-high 13 batters and allowed only two infield hits in the first complete game of his career. Thompson, who lowered his season earned run average to 2.06 in seven starts, delivered a career effort when his team needed it most as the Wildcats won their first game of the season over a Top 10 opponent. The complete game shutout was the first for a UK pitcher since March, 2017.
A native of Selma, Ind., Thompson dominated the Bulldogs from beginning to end, striking out four in the first two innings and then recording the final six outs of the game via strikeout. The only blemishes were an infield single and a bunt single as he set a new career-high with 124 pitches and got stronger as the game went along.
The preseason All-America and All-SEC southpaw also became the 14th player in school history to reach 200 career strikeouts and currently ranks 10th among all active Division I pitchers (min. 75 innings) with 12.33 strikeouts per nine innings. He leads the SEC in strikeouts this season with 68 in 43.2 innings.
Founded in 1962, the NCBWA is dedicated to the advancement of college baseball. Membership is open to writers, broadcasters and publicists of the sport. For more information about the NCBWA, visit the association's official website, ncbwa.com.
For more information on the NCBWA Division I National Players of the Week, contact NCBWA Assistant Executive Director Mike Montoro at West Virginia University at 304-293-2821.
2019 NCBWA Division I Players of the Week:
Week ending Feb. 17: Austin Martin, Vanderbilt (Hitter); Grant Judkins, Iowa (Pitcher)
· Week ending Feb. 24: Thomas Dillard, Ole Miss (Hitter); Tommy Henry, Michigan (Pitcher)
· Week ending March 3: Harrison Freed, Butler and TJ Hopkins, South Carolina (Hitter); Tanner Burns, Auburn (Pitcher)
· Week ending March 10: Cameron Warren, Texas Tech (Hitter); Jake Kuchmaner, East Carolina and Chris Gerard, Virginia Tech (Pitcher)
· Week ending March 17: Chris Lanzilli, Wake Forest (Hitter); Jake Kuchmaner, East Carolina (Pitcher)
· Week ending March 24: Tristan Peterson, New Mexico State (Hitter); Connor Thomas, Georgia Tech (Pitcher)
· Week ending March 31: Jake Sanford, WKU (Hitter); Zach Thompson, Kentucky (Pitcher)
· Week ending April 7: Kody Hoese, Tulane (Hitter); Alek Manoah, West Virginia (Pitcher)
· Week ending April 14: Spencer Steer, Oregon (Hitter); Cody Luther, Saint Louis and Ryan Shreve, Pacific (Pitcher)
· Week ending April 21: Logan Wyatt, Louisville (Hitter); Alek Manoah, West Virginia (Pitcher)
· Week ending April 28: Keaton Smith, Nevada (Hitter); Ryan Garcia, UCLA (Pitcher)
· Week ending May 5: Chase Smartt, Troy (Hitter); Andy Fisher, Illinois (Pitcher)
· Week ending May 12: Bryce Ball, Dallas Baptist (Hitter); Micah Kaczor, East Tennessee State (Pitcher)
· Week ending May 19: Andrew Daschbach, Stanford (Hitter); Seth Lonsway, Ohio State (Pitcher)
2019 NCBWA Division I Players of the Month:
February: Nick Gonzales, New Mexico State (Player); John Doxakis, Texas A&M (Pitcher)
· March: Hunter Bishop, Arizona State (Player); Reid Detmers, Louisville (Pitcher)
· April: Adley Rutschman, Oregon State (Player); Alek Manoah, West Virginia (Pitcher)