Feb. 15, 2008
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Senior Jeff Lombard and redshirt sophomore Mark Willinsky of the Santa Clara baseball team were two of 40 players to be named to the initial watch list for the fourth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, it was announced Thursday. The award is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.
The Broncos were one of two schools in the nation to have two pitchers named to the list as Arizona's Daniel Schlereth and Jason Stoffel were also named to the list. The West Coast Conference had a total of three players named to the preseason list. Joining Lombard and Willinsky was A.J. Griffin from San Diego.
Last season, Lombard finished second in the West Coast Conference with 30 appearances on the year, all in relief, and third in saves with 10. His saves tally tied him from second on Santa Clara's single season saves list. Lombard posted a 3-5 record with a 4.06 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 37.2 innings pitched. As a sophomore, he was the WCC's co-leader (with teammate Daniel DeMarco) in mound appearances with 29, all in relief. Entering his senior season, Lombard has a 4.04 career ERA and has registered 80 career strikeouts in 91.1 innings pitched.
Willinsky returns for his second season on the mound for the Broncos in 2008. As a freshman in 2006, he finished second in the WCC with nine saves and third in mound appearances with 28. His nine saves were only one shy of the SCU freshman record. Willinsky struck out 38 batters in 39.1 innings pitched.
Nominations for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award were made by baseball sports information contacts. The initial list will be updated with a mid-season release the week of April 14, including 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 28, 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 Wednesday, June 4, before the opening of NCAA super regional play. 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 and Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State topping the field in 2007.
The Broncos open their 2008 season on Friday, Feb. 22 against Utah Valley. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Stephen Schott Stadium.