LINCOLN, Neb. (NCBWA) – Sam Houston State University relief
ace Luke Prihoda has been named the 2007 winner of the National
Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's Stopper of the Year Award,
the association announced Wednesday. The award honors the top relief
pitcher in college baseball.
Prihoda helped guide the Southland Conference champion Bearkats
(40-24) to a runner-up finish at the Oxford Regional, as Sam Houston
State advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996.
SHSU was one of only two No. 4 seeds to advance to a regional title
game, as Prihoda earned a win and a save in his two NCAA appearances.
He had a win or save in 25 of Sam Houston State's 40 victories during
On the season, the right-hander from Weimar, Texas, compiled
a 7-3 record with a national-best 18 saves in 19 chances, while
posting a 1.62 ERA in 35 appearances. The Southland Conference Pitcher
of the Year and Southland Tournament Most Valuable Player, Prihoda
struck out 65 and walked 11 in 72.2 innings of work and allowed
just five of 35 inherited runners to score.
"This is huge," Prihoda said. "I played with last year's winner
(Don Czyz) two summers ago and have been following this award for
quite a while. When I set my goals at the start of the season, I
set breaking our school record for saves as my top goal. After I
broke that record, I went after the conference record and then when
I got that one, I thought finishing among the top five in the nation
in saves would be outstanding."
"This is just a perfect end to a great season, especially when
you consider who I was competing against for the award," Prihoda
said. "I want to thank my teammates and my coaches after winning
the conference tournament and getting to the finals of the regional.
This will be the team that people will look back on and say that
we brought back the once great baseball tradition at Sam Houston
Sam Houston State Coach Mark Johnson said that Prihoda's accolades
are well deserved.
"There is no question that Luke Prihoda is our Most Valuable
Player, and this is a great honor for him," Johnson said. "There
are a lot of excellent pitchers in our conference, but Luke contributed
more as a reliever and saw more action. He pitched in 35 of our
64 games, and he brought us home quite a few times. He was a joy
Prihoda bested a field of five finalists in national voting,
including Andrew Carignan of North Carolina, Matt German from Northern
Illinois, Andy Masten from Creighton and Casey Weathers from Vanderbilt.
This is the third annual NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award. J.
Brent Cox of Texas won the inaugural award in 2005, while Don Czyz
of Kansas was the 2006 recipient.
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 the University of Nebraska at 402-472-7772 (Ext.
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