Sam Houston State senior catcher Anthony Azar has been named a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the nation’s top catcher. The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced the list of 15 semifinalists Thursday.
Azar leads the Bearkats in nearly all offensive categories while also managing a pitching staff with a solid 2.87 earned run average. The Woodlands product is batting .366 with nine homers and 42 RBI this season. He’s slugging .571 and has an on base percentage of .453. With only 10 strikeouts in 191 at bats, he is one of the toughest players in the nation to strike out.
He has thrown out 18 attempted base-stealers this season, which is tied for the lead in the Southland. Azar has only committed one error this season and has the best fielding percentage (.997) of all of Sam Houston’s every-day players.
Azar is Sam Houston’s first ever semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award.
The Johnny Bench Award semifinalists (in alphabetical order):
• Will Allen, University of Mississippi
• Brett Austin, North Carolina State University
• Anthony Azar, Sam Houston State University
• Aramis Garcia, Florida International University
• Grayson Greiner University of South Carolina
• Taylor Gushue, University of Florida
• Sean Hagen, Eastern Kentucky University
• Mike Hollenbeck, Illinois State University
• Sean McHugh, Purdue University
• Brian O'Keefe, Saint Joseph's University
• Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State University
• Alex Real, University of New Mexico
• Kyle Schwarber, Indiana University
• Mark Zagunis, Virginia Tech
• Shane Zeile, UCLA
Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 3, 2014. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 17th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 26, 2014.