On the week of the 56th NCAA World Series in Omaha the impending Dick Howser Trophy, will be presented Friday by Verizon, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the NCBWA (voting entity for the award) in Omaha at 9:30 a.m.(CDT). The award is given to the most outstanding Division I player in the nation. The All-America contingent is a dream team that could make any coach or program proud.
Three members of the 2002 NCBWA All-America Team played for the Alabama Crimson Tide this past season. Senior catcher Jeremy Brown was a second-team NCBWA All-America selection, while senior RHP Lance Cormier and freshman LHP Taylor Tankersley were NCBWA Third-Team All-America picks.
Brown, a native of Hueytown, Ala., and recent first-round pick of the Oakland Athletics, started all 66 games for Alabama this season and batted .320 with 11 home runs and 64 RBI. Last week, he was tabbed the NCBWA's District III Player of the Year. He is also a finalist for the 2002 Dick Howser Trophy, presented this Friday at the CWS. Brown is also a semi-finalist for the 2002 Johnny Bench Award. The three finalists for that honor will also be announced this weekend in Omaha.
Cormier, a native of Lafayette, La., holds four Alabama career pitching records, including appearances (87), wins (31), innings pitched (384.2) and strikeouts (289). As a senior this year, Cormier was 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 17 starts. He set the UA single-season record with 129 innings pitched and ranked third with 11 victories. Cormier was also a Third-Team All-America selection by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
Tankersley, a native of Vicksburg, Miss., is one of only four freshmen honored today by the NCBWA. The left-hander led the Crimson Tide with 25 appearances this season and compiled an 8-5 record with a 2.62 ERA. The eight wins tied the single-season school record for freshman, joining B.J. Green (1998) and Scott Murphy (1999). Tankersley also added eight saves, the second-most in UA history by a freshman. Fellow All-American Lance Cormier holds the freshman record with 11 saves in 1999.
Tankersley joins Vincent Sinisi (1B, Rice), Darryl Lawhorn (Utility, East Carolina) and Phillip Humber (RHP, Rice) as the only rookies on the 2002 NCBWA All-America squad.
There are 12 standouts who are among the eight teams in the June 14-22 College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium and six returnees from the 2001 first, second or third units selected by the 150-plus voting members of the NCBWA for 2002.
Nine NCBWA mainstays from the District Players of the Year for Division I all landed places on the first three units as the 2002 team is one of the youngest contingents in the 1989-02 history of the selections.
First baseman Vincent Sinisi is a redshirt freshman with .432 hitting credentials (11th nationally in batting average) while Southern University stalwart Rickie Weeks led the nation in hitting with a .495 average, 20 home runs and 96 RBI as he posted Davey Johnson-like numbers as the first team second baseman.
The four starting pitchers (three sophomores and a junior) on the initial unit had a combined record of 53-8 with 509 strikeouts in 494-plus innings and the nation's first choice in the 2002 Major League Draft-Ball State righthander Bryan Bullington. Relief aces senior Blake Taylor of South Carolina and junior Royce Ring of San Diego State combined for 38 saves prior to the 2002 CWS.
The left side of the infield, though, is the envy of any college coach. 2002 Dick Howser Trophy finalist senior SS Khalil Greene is third nationally with a .480 batting average for Coach Jack Leggett's World Series-bound Clemson Tigers along with 26 home runs and 86 RBI. Teammate 3B Jeff Baker briefly eclipsed the Clemson season record for home runs with 25 before Greene topped that in a subsequent NCAA Super Regionals' game against Arkansas and sports 82 RBI for one of the nation's top 1-2 hitting punches at any pair of positions.
Catcher Jed Morris powered Nebraska to its second consecutive appearance at Rosenblatt Stadium in the nationals at Omaha, Neb., with a Big 12 Conference-high 21 homers and 84 RBI while New Mexico State OF Ryan Kenning paced the Aggies to their first-ever NCAA appearance in 2002 with 24 dingers and 96 RBI. Notre Dame's speed merchant Steve Stanley helped the Fighting Irish make their first trek to the NCAA World Series since 1957 with a solid series in the Super Regionals at Florida State and sports a .445 average with 31 stolen bases through games of June 13, 2002. DH-utility athlete John McCurdy of Maryland posted numbers (.443-19 HR-77 RBI) that kept the Terrapins in contention for a postseason berth for most of the season.
While the three All-America teams have a solid flair from the state of South Carolina (four Clemson standouts, two from South Carolina, and one each from Coastal Carolina and College of Charleston), there are a total of 34 teams from nine Division I conferences represented on the 2002 lists.
Previous first teamers on the NCBWA All-America contingents since '89 have included Georgia Tech catcher Jason Varitek, Clemson pitcher Kris Benson, Texas P-DH-1B Brooks Kieschnick, LSU second baseman Todd Walker, Cal State Fullerton OF Mark Kotsay, Southern California pitcher Mark Prior, Wichita State pitcher Braden Looper, Stanford catch A.J. Hinch, and Old Dominion shortstop Tim Hummel, among others.