Prihoda named to midseason watch list for ‘Stopper of the Year’

(SID) – 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 ofcollege 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.”

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