National Collegiate Baseball Writers June 1, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Todd Lamb
Five standouts chosen from an outstanding field

DALLAS (NCBWA) Five finalists have been named for the inaugural National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, the association announced Wednesday. The finalists for the award that will recognize the top relief pitcher in college baseball include Daniel Best from Southern Mississippi, J. Brent Cox from Texas, Craig Hansen from St. John's, Steve Kleen from Pepperdine and Erik Morrison from Ball State.


Kleen and Morrison lead the nation with 15 saves heading into the NCAA tournament this weekend and the two were automatic finalists after tying for the national lead through last weekend.

Kleen (Menifee, Calif.) will be in action Friday in Long Beach, Calif., when Pepperdine (38-21) plays Southern California in the first round of the Long Beach Regional. Kleen is 3-3 on the year with a 1.97 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 45.2 innings and has made 25 relief appearances.

Morrison's season concluded last weekend when Ball State (38-18) went 2-2 in the Mid-American Conference tournament. Morrison (Hanover, Ind.) was 7-0 with a 1.32 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 41.0 innings in 28 relief appearances.

The other three finalists helped guide their respective teams to the NCAA tournament.

Best (Ruston, La.) helped lead Southern Miss (41-19) to a regional bid at the Oxford Regional, where it will meet Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Maine. Best is 3-0 with 11 saves in 29 appearances. He struck out 36 batters in 36.1 innings and owns a 0.50 ERA.

Cox (Bay City, Texas) and his Longhorns (45-14) will welcome Arkansas, Miami (Ohio) and Quinnipiac to Disch-Falk Field and will play Quinnipiac Friday when the Austin Regional gets underway. Cox is 7-2 this season with 14 saves and a 1.77 ERA. He has 70 strikeouts in 61 innings and has made 33 appearances. He is holding opponents to a .210 batting average.

Hansen (Glen Cove, N.Y.) and the Red Storm (39-16) travel across the country for the Corvallis Regional at Oregon State where those two schools will be joined by Virginia and Ohio State. St. John's will square off against the Cavaliers on Friday. Hansen is 2-2 with 14 saves and a 1.41 ERA. In 30 appearances, he has struck out 77 batters in 47.1 innings.

More than 35 players were considered for the first-ever award. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 8, two days prior to the beginning of NCAA super regional action.

The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Xanthus-Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player. It also selects a Division I All-America Team, Division I and III Players of the Week, Division I District Players of the Year and Division III Players of the Year.

For more information on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, contact Todd Lamb at The Ohio State University at 614-688-0343 or Russ Anderson at Conference USA at 214-774-1351.

Name, School, Cl. W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO OBA
Daniel Best Southern Miss, Jr. 3-0 11 0.50 29 36.1 29 3 2 7 36 .223
J. Brent Cox Texas, Jr. 7-2 14 1.77 33 61.0 46 14 12 16 70 .210
Craig Hansen St. John's, Jr. 2-2 14 1.41 30 57.1 30 11 9 17 77 .155
Steve Kleen Pepperdine, Sr. 3-3 15 1.97 25 45.2 37 10 10 17 41 .224
Erik Morrison Ball State, Sr. 7-0 15 1.32 28 41.0 31 8 6 12 41 .208

2005 NCBWA Stopper of the Year key dates:
Jan. 27: NCBWA introduces Stopper of the Year Award
Week of Feb. 21: Initial watch list released
Week of April 18: Midseason update released
Wed., June 1: Stopper of the Year finalists announced
Wed., June 8: NCBWA Stopper of the Year announced