May 30, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Shamus McKnight
Five relief specialists up for third annual award

LINCOLN, Neb. (NCBWA) – Five finalists have been named for the third annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, the association announced on Thursday.

The finalists for the award that will recognize the top relief pitcher in college baseball include NCAA saves leader Luke Prihoda from Sam Houston State, Andrew Carignan of North Carolina, Matt German from Northern Illinois, Andy Masten from Creighton and Casey Weathers from Vanderbilt. All but German helped their teams reach the NCAA Championship, which begins Friday at 16 regional sites across the nation.

Prihoda leads the nation with 17 saves entering the NCAA Tournament and was an automatic finalist. The right-hander from Weimar, Texas, led Sam Houston State (38-22) to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996. The Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year and Southland Tournament Most Valuable Player, Prihoda also has six wins and a 1.21 ERA over 67.0 innings, allowing just four of 33 inherited runners to score all season.

Carignan – a right-handed junior from Norwich, Conn. – will be in action on Friday, as the Tar Heels (48-12) take on Jacksonville (34-26) in the Chapel Hill Regional. A first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, Carignan is 1-1 with 13 saves and a 1.20 ERA over 45 innings of work this spring, helping the Tar Heels to a No. 3 National Seed. Carignan allowed just three of 26 inherited runners to score.

German earned first-team All-Mid-American Conference honors for Northern Illinois, going 5-2 with 13 saves and a 1.76 ERA. The right-hander from Aurora, Ill., led the Mid-American Conference with 34 appearances and struck out 56 over 46 innings of work NIU’s all-time saves leader with 26, German has already begun his professional career, signing with the Philadelphia Phillies last week.

Mastan, a native of Omaha, has played a major role in helping Creighton to a 44-14 record entering Friday’s Fayetteville Regional opener against Oklahoma State (38-19). He ranks second nationally with 16 saves, including 10 saves in one-run games, as the Bluejays won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in 2007. The right-hander has a 4-3 record and a 1.74 ERA, fanning 45 over 46.2 innings of work, en route to first-team All-MVC honors.

Weathers has been the lynchpin of a Vanderbilt bullpen that has helped the Commodores to a national-best 51 wins, a sweep of SEC regular-season and tournament crowns and the No. 1 National Seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Elk Grove, Calif., native not only has seven saves, but also sports an impressive 11-2 record and a 2.64 ERA in 28 appearances. The first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection has allowed 23 hits over 44.1 innings and a 67-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Vanderbilt will take on Austin Peay (39-20) in the opening round of the Nashville Regional.

More than 40 players from around the country were considered for the award. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 6, two days prior to the beginning of NCAA Super Regional action.

The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the 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 Shamus McKnight at Nebraska at 402-472-7772 or Russ Anderson at Conference USA at 214-774-1351.

2007 NCBWA Stopper of the Year key dates:
• Fri., Feb. 2: Watch List announced
• Thurs., April 19: Midseason Watch List announced
• Wed., May 30: Stopper of the Year finalists announced
• Wed., June 6: Stopper of the Year announced