COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Seventy-five players, including Virginia Tech senior Clark Labitan, have been named to the initial watch list for the ninth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball, as announced by the association on Friday.
Oregon junior Jimmie Sherfy, a 2012 Stopper of the Year Award finalist, and Texas junior Corey Knebel, the 2011 winner of the Stopper of the Year Award, headline the list of preseason nominees for the 2013 award. There were four pitchers from the ACC named to the list.
Labitan, who rebounded from an injury that sidelined him for almost two seasons, rebounded in 2012 to post a 6-2 record in 28 relief appearances (second on the team) and tied for the team-lead with three saves. He struck out 34 batters opposed to just 11 walks in 45.1 innings pitched and posted a 3.18 ERA.
He did most of his work in conference games, with 17 appearances, and led the Hokies with a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings. Labitan accounted for six of Tech’s 11 wins in ACC play, earning the win the three games and the save in three others.
Nominations for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award were made by baseball sports information/media relations contacts. The initial list, which can be viewed here, will be updated with a mid-season release the week of April 16, including the national saves leaders. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Division I national saves leader and four other relief pitching standouts will be selected as finalists and released Wednesday, June 5, prior to start of NCAA Super Regional tournament competition.
From the list of finalists, the NCBWA's All-America Committee will select a winner. The ninth annual winner will be announced in Omaha on Saturday, June 15, the opening day of the College World Series.
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. Knebel won in 2011 with Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012.
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