Feb. 17, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Chuck Dunlap
Two finalists from 2008 head list of 40 standout relievers

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (NCBWA) – Forty players have been named to the initial watch list for the fifth 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 Tuesday.

With two of the finalists for the 2008 honor back for another season (Scott Bittle of Ole Miss and Eric Pettis of UC Irvine), as well as an impressive list of All-Americans, another exciting race for this year's Stopper of the Year Award is anticipated. Georgia relief ace Joshua Fields, a first-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners and the Southeastern Conference’s all-time saves leader, claimed last year's award. Nine of this year’s nominees were included in the 2009 NCBWA Preseason All-America Team announced by the organization in December.

The Atlantic Coast Conference led the way with nine players named to the preseason watch list. The Big 12 and the West Coast Conference added four pitchers each on this year's watch list, while the SEC and Pacific-10 Conference are represented by three players each.

Pitcher School Cl. Hometown
Colin Bates North Carolina So. Naperville, Ill.
Michael Belfiore (L) Boston College Jr. Commack, N.Y.
Kyle Bellamy Miami Jr. Davie, Fla.
Scott Bittle Ole Miss Sr. Texarkana, Texas
Louis Coleman LSU Sr. Schlater, Miss.
Zach Calhoon UT-San Antonio Jr. Spring, Texas
Jordan Conley Xavier Sr. Hamilton, Ohio
Joey Cutler N.C. State Sr. Matthews, N.C.
Chase Dempsay Houston So. Baytown, Texas
Matt Evers (L) Rice So. Houston, Texas
Nick Gaudi Pepperdine Sr. Lancaster, Calif.
Jake Geglein Cincinnati Sr. Cincinnati, Ohio
Jimmy Gillheeney (L) N.C. State Jr. Johnston, R.I.
AJ Griffin San Diego Jr. El Cajon, Calif.
Jake Hale Ohio State Sr. Albany, Ohio
Stephen Harrold UNC Wilmington So. Raleigh, N.C.
Alex Hassan Duke Jr. Boston, Mass.
James Hayes Rider Sr. Sunrise, Fla.
Brendan Lafferty (L) UCLA Sr. Riverside, Calif.
Greg Lane Binghamton Sr. Binghamton, N.Y.
Cody Martin Gonzaga So. Dos Palos, Calif.
Alex McRee (L) Georgia Jr. Gainesville, Ga.
JD Melton Navy Jr. Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Brian Moran (L) North Carolina Jr. Rye, N.Y.
Matt Packer (L) Virginia Jr. Germantown, Tenn.
Eric Pettis UC Irvine Jr. West Hills, Calif.
Kevin Rhoderick Oregon State So. Scottsdale, Ariz.
Thomas Rooke (L) Kansas State So. Spring, Texas
Thain Simon Santa Clara So. El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Paul Smyth Kansas Sr. Atascadero, Calif.
Travis Smink (L) VMI Jr. Dalmatia, Pa.
Jimmy Stanley Belmont Sr. Lexington, Ky.
Travis Starling Texas A&M Jr. Yoakum, Texas
Jason Stoffel Arizona Jr. Agoura, Calif.
Drew Storen Stanford So. Brownsburg, Ind.
Josh Storm Troy Sr. Cottondale, Fla.
Daniel Tenholder Austin Peay Jr. Clarksville, Tenn.
Kyle Thebeau Texas A&M Sr. Corpus Christi, Texas
Matt Vaughn Clemson Sr. Summerville, S.C.
Derek Ward Louisiana-Monroe Sr. Lewisville, Ark.
(L) indicates left-handed pitcher

Nominations for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award were made by baseball sports information/media relation contacts. The initial list 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, May 27, prior to start of NCAA regional tournament competition.

The NCBWA's All-America Committee will then select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced in early June.

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, Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007 and Fields topping the field in 2008.

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

For additional information on the 2009 NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award, contact Chuck Dunlap at the Southeastern Conference (205-458-3000).

2009 NCBWA Stopper of the Year key dates:
Tues., Feb. 17: Preseason Watch List
Thurs., April 16: Midseason Watch List
Wed., June 3: Stopper of the Year finalists announced
Sat., June 13: NCBWA Stopper of the Year announced