Watch This

One of the most prestigious awards in college baseball has two Alabama junior pitchers on its watch list for the 2006 season.

Alabama junior left-hander Wade LeBlanc (Lake Charles, Louisiana) and Crimson Tide junior right-hander Bernard Robert (Denham Springs, Louisiana) are among the 120 preseason nominees for 2006 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List, in announcement made by the College Baseball Foundation in Lubbock, Texas.

The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. The 2005 winner, third baseman Alex Gordon of Nebraska, has signed to play professionally for the Kansas City Royals.

LeBlanc has compiled a 13-9 record in 30 career games at Alabama, including 28 starts. He has worked 200 2/3 innings and allowed 164 hits, 81 runs and 66 earned runs, with 206 strikeouts and 54 walks.

Last year, LeBlanc was 5-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 14 games. He missed five starts due to an injury. Despite the missed playing time, he worked 88 innings and allowed 77 hits, 44 runs and 40 earned runs, with 108 strikeouts and 28 walks. The 108 strikeouts are the most in school history by a sophomore.

He was named the National Freshman of the Year in 2004 after posting an 8-4 record and 2.08 ERA in 16 games. He set UA freshman records for wins (8), complete games (8), innings pitched (112.2) and strikeouts (98).

Robert was a two-year starter at Southeastern Louisiana the past two seasons (2004-05). As a sophomore (2005), the right-hander was 9-4 with a 2.43 ERA in 17 appearances, including 12 starts on the mound. He worked 115 innings and allowed 100 hits, 38 runs and 31 earned runs, with 33 walks and 101 strikeouts. He also added a league best nine complete games. He led SLU in wins, ERA, appearances, starts, CGs, innings and strikeouts as a sophomore.

He pitched this summer for Youse's of Maryland in the Cal Ripken, Sr., Collegiate Baseball League, where he posted a 6-0 record and 0.68 ERA in seven starts. He allowed only three runs and 20 hits in 40 innings

The Wallace Watch will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May. Then the selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals at a press conference in Omaha. The finalists, their head coaches, and their parents will be invited to Lubbock, TX, for a schedule of special events tied to the award banquet, which will again be nationally televised by Fox Sports Network.

Dedicated to the memory of former Texas Tech shortstop and assistant coach, Wallace was a slick-fielding shortstop at Texas Tech from 1977 to 1980. A 4-year starter, he was named All-Southwest Conference and All-District Six his senior year when he led the Red Raiders to their first-ever appearance in the Southwest Conference Tournament. After playing two years in the Texas Rangers organization, he returned to Texas Tech and served as a graduate assistant and later as an assistant coach. In the summer of 1984 he was diagnosed with cancer and fought the disease courageously until his death on March 24, 1985, at age 27. The Plano, Texas, native was married to the former Sandy Arnold and they had one daughter, Lindsay Ryan.

The selection committee for the Wallace Award is comprised of a national panel of preeminent coaches, sports information directors, former winners and beat media who most closely follow the sport. Screening Committee members will evaluate the candidates and will continue their review throughout the entire baseball season. The list will expand and contract during the regular season and additional Wallace Watch candidates may be added as the season progresses. Voting for the three finalists and the Wallace Award winner will be conducted by confidential balloting, with totals tabulated by the J.W.Anderson & Associates accounting firm in Lubbock, Texas

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