LINCOLN, NE -- Luke Prihoda, Sam Houston State's senior right-handed closer from Weimer, is on the list of 40 plays who have been named to the midseason watch list for the third annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award .
The award will be given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I college baseball.
Prihoda is a big reason why the Sam Houston State baseball team, who has not had a winning record since 1998 nor qualified for the Southland Conference post-season tournament since 2000, stands 27-16 this season and is in the thick of the Southland race with an 11-7 league.
The 6-5, 230 pitcher has tied the Southland Conference record for saves in one season with 14th. That mark also tied him for leadership in NCAA Division I baseball with Virginia Military's Kevin Crum.
Prihoda owns a 1.22 earned run average with 44 strike outs in 44 and a third innings pitched.
"Luke is so strong, mentally and physically," SHSU head coach Mark Johnson said. "The whole team knows that if we can get to the seventh or eighth inning with a lead, Luke can come in and close it out for us."
The 40 pitchers on the mid-season watch list have combined to save over 300 games during the first half of the 2007 season (thru games of April 15) and have converted 89 percent of their save chances as a group.
Prihoda, Richmond's Brian Alas and UC Irvine's Blair Erickson are all
perfect on the 2007 season in save chances while recording at least 10
saves. Erickson already earned a spot in the NCAA record books earlier this month, breaking the previous mark of 49 career saves set by USC's Jack Krawczyk's in the late 1990s.
The list features players from 20 conferences, including five each from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12. The Pacific-10 and Conference USA also have four closers on the list, while the Atlantic Sun, Big South, Mid-American, Missouri Valley , Southland and Sun Belt Conference all had multiple members of the watch list.
"This is a truly outstanding group of pitchers that cover the landscape of college baseball," said NCBWA 1st Vice-President Shamus McKnight, Assistant Media Relations Director at the University of Nebraska. "The recognition for this award over the last two years has grown immensely as we have seen the increased emphasis on having strong relief pitching in the college game."
Nominations were made by each school's baseball sports information contact and over 80 pitchers were nominated from around the country. A preliminary preseason watch list was released in February. At the end the regular season, the Division I leader in saves and four other relief pitching standouts will be selected as the award's finalists. These finalists will be released on Wednesday, May 30, just prior to the beginning of NCAA regional play.
>From the list of finalists, the NCBWA's All-America Committee will select a winner. The third annual winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 6, two days prior to the beginning of NCAA super regional action. Last year's winner was Don Czyz from Kansas. J. Brent Cox of Texas won the inaugural award in 2005.
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.
2007 NCBWA STOPPER OF THE YEAR MIDSEASON WATCH LIST
Pitcher School Cl. Hometown
Brian Alas Richmond Jr. Port Washington, N.Y.
David Anderson Coastal Carolina So. Lexington, S.C.
Randy Boone Texas Sr. Yoakum, Texas
Matt Brinkmann Evansville Se. Newburgh, Ind.
Andrew Carignan North Carolina Jr. Norwich, Conn.
Nick Cassavechia Baylor Jr. Dallas, Texas
Chance Chapman Oral Roberts Sr. Paso Robles, Calif.
Kevin Crum VMI So. Fairfax, Va.
Sam Demel TCU Jr. Spring, Texas
Josh Dew Troy Sr. Montgomery, Ala.
Jason Dominguez Pepperdine Jr. Lake Balboa, Calif.
Daniel Edwards Kansas State Jr. Kingwood, Texas
Josh Ellis Wake Forest Fr. Loveland, Ohio
Robbie Elsemiller Stetson Jr. Okeechobee, Fla.
Blair Erickson UC Irvine Sr. Fair Oaks, Calif.
Patrick Ezell Southern Miss Sr. Petal, Miss.
Cory Gearrin Mercer Jr. Dayton, Tenn.
Matt German (L) Northern Illinois Sr. Aurora, Ill.
Matt Gorgen California So. Clayton, Calif.
Nick Hagadone (L) Washington Jr. Sumner, Wash.
James Hayes Rider So. Sunrise, Fla.
Kyle Heyne Ball State Jr. Coldwater, Ohio
Paul Koss USC Sr. Orange, Calif.
Noah Krol Wichita State Sr. Nickerson, Kan.
Casey Lambert (L) Virginia Sr. Harrisonburg, Va.
Daniel Latham Tulane Sr. Covington, La.
Andy Masten Creighton Sr. Omaha, Neb.
Shane Mathews East Carolina Jr. Conover, N.C.
Eryk McConnell N.C. State Jr. Waynesville, N.C.
JD Melton Navy Fr. Myrtle Beach, S.C.
David Mixon Louisiana-Monroe Sr. Americus, Ga.
Kyle Nicholson Texas A&M Sr. College Station, Texas
Luke Pisker VCU Jr. Oley, Pa.
Luke Prihoda Sam Houston State Sr. Weimar, Texas
Garrett Richards Oklahoma Fr. Edmond, Okla.
Shawn Sanford South Florida Fr. Cinnaminson, N.J.
Link Saunders The Citadel Sr. Irmo, S.C.
Daniel Schlereth (L) Arizona So. Lone Tree, Colo.
Michael Seander Duke Fr. Pawtucket, R.I.
Casey Weathers Vanderbilt Sr. Elk Grove, Calif.
(L) indicates left-handed pitcher