IRVING, TX -- The Big 12 landed a conference-best six student-athletes on the list of semifinalists for the 2012 Dick Howser Award Trophy, presented by Easton Foundations. Trent Blank (Baylor), Josh Ludy (Baylor), Andrew Heaney (Oklahoma State), Ross Stripling (Texas A&M), Michael Wacha (Texas A&M) and Jamodrick McGruder (Texas Tech) comprise the Big 12's representatives.
Baylor is one of four teams with two semifinalists. A native of Columbia, Ill., Blank is one of 10 starting pitchers among the semifinalists. He ranks seventh nationally and leads the Big 12 with a 9-1 record and ranks seventh in the league with a 2.30 ERA entering Friday's start at Texas.
Blank's only loss this season came at Oklahoma on May 12, when he pitched his first career complete game and allowed one earned run in a 2-1 loss. With one more win, he can post the 15th double-digit wins season in program history, and his 17-5 career record ranks as the fifth-best winning percentage all-time at Baylor.
Ludy, a Portland, Ind., native and Big 12 Player of the Year candidate, leads the Big 12 with seven home runs and 28 RBI in conference games. His .344 batting average in all games ranks seventh in the league, and he also leads the conference with 53 RBI on the season. He is one of four catchers among the Howser Trophy semifinalists.
Ludy is also a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate catcher, and he received his diploma from Baylor president Ken Starr prior to Thursday's win against Texas.
In his 14 starts this season, Heaney is 8-1 with five complete games, three shutouts and a 1.63 ERA. He ranks second in the NCAA with 132 strikeouts in 110.1 innings and has recorded eight or more strikeouts in 11 of his 14 appearances, including six in which he's struck out 10 or more.
Heaney is the first OSU pitcher since 2000 to record 100 or more strikeouts in a season, and his 132 Ks are the fifth-highest single-season total by a Cowboy pitcher. He leads the Big 12 with three shutouts, which is tied for the third most in a single season in OSU history, and also tops the conference in complete games and innings pitched. He ranks second in the league in ERA, wins and opponents batting average (.183).
Wacha and Stripling both reached the 300 career strikeout mark this season. Wacha finished the 2012 regular season with an 8-0 mark and a 2.09 ERA. The junior tallied 99 strikeouts in 99.0 innings pitched and limited batters to a .225 batting average. Stripling is 9-2 with a 2.36 ERA. The senior tossed the first no-hitter in the Big 12 since 2009, with a 1-0 no-no vs. San Diego State. He is the eighth league pitcher to record the feat since 2000 and the first Aggie to do so since 1996 (9 innings). He has eight career complete games and 29 career victories, which is sixth on the Big 12's career wins list.
McGruder leads the league in runs scored (52), stolen bases (37), triples (eight), walks (45) and on-base percentage (.508). He also sits in third with a .366 batting average. He is currently six stolen bases shy of setting the Big 12 record for most swipes in a single season (42). He also needs just eight more to claim the top spot on the all-time career stolen base chart.
The Big 12 has produced three Howser Trophy award-winners, including last season's recipient Taylor Jungmann (Texas). Alex Gordon (Nebraska, 2005) and Jason Jennings (Baylor, 1999) also garnered the award. In addition, Robin Ventura (Oklahoma State, 1988), Scott Bryant (Texas, 1989) and Brooks Kieschnick (Texas, 1992 & 1993) have represented the league's current member institutions.
Finalists for the Dick Howser Trophy will be announced in mid-June, and the winner will be presented with the trophy at TD Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha on June 15 - the opening day of the 2012 College World Series.