GREENVILLE, N.C. (NCBWA) Ten standouts already with 2021 all-conference and several All-America mentions make up the finalists for the 16th NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award.
Many of the best earned run average relief men in NCAA Division I statistics and six stalwarts, who led their teams to NCAA Super Regional berths this weekend, highlight this "dream" bullpen listing and are ready to join a superlative group of past NCBWA Stoppers of the Year.
Righthander Kevin Kopps of No. 1 Arkansas has amassed the most victories (12-0), appearances (31), earned run average (0.68) and innings pitched (79 2/3) among the standouts and pitched the Razorbacks into the NCAA Super Regionals against NC State with seven innings of work against Nebraska in the NCAA Fayetteville Regionals.
Blake Bales of Virginia, Taylor Broadway of Ole Miss, Zach Grech of Stanford, Landon Sims of Mississippi State, and Vince Vannelle of Arizona played key roles in getting their teams to within two victories of a place in the 2021 NCAA World Series June 18-29/30 in Omaha, Neb.
Georgia Southerns Nick Jones tops the group with 17 saves, while Broadway is one behind at 16. There are four finalists with ERAs under 1.50, and the 10 national leaders have combined for 112 saves and a 37-15 mark despite entering games with the final outcome resting on their pitching performances.
They join a standout list of previous NCBWA Stoppers of the Year with Texas J. Brent Cox, 2005; Kansas· Don Czyz, 2006; Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State, 2007; Georgia·s Joshua Fields, 2008; San Diego State·s Addison Reed, 2009; Texas· Chance Ruffi, 2010; Texas· Corey Knebel, 2011; Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez, 2012; UCLA·s David Berg, 2013 and 2015; Louisville·s Nick Burdi, 2014; Miami (Fla.) hurler Bryan Garcia, 2016; Louisville·s Lincoln Henzman, 2017; Florida·s Michael Byrne, 2018; and UCLA·s Holden Powell in 2019. There was no winner in 2020 due to the COVID-19-shortened season.
The Stopper of the Year recipient will be announced via a nationwide news release on Friday, June 18.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player and the Mike Martin National Coach of the Year to the nations top coach. 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.