Duchene, Jay Named Semifinalists for NCBWA's Top Award

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DALLAS - Fighting Illini baseball juniors Kevin Duchene and Tyler Jay were named semifinalists for the 2015 Dick Howser Trophy, announced the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Friday. The Illini southpaws, who led No. 2 Illinois to a Big Ten title and school-record 25-game winning streak, are among 35 players up for the award given to the top player in collegiate baseball.

Jay ranks second in the country with a 0.68 ERA and boasts a 5-1 record as the closer. He also has a career-high 11 saves (2nd in Big Ten), giving him 21 for his career, which is tied for the second-most in school history. The Lemont, Illinois, native has 23 scoreless appearances out of 25 total to go along with 60 strikeouts and five walks (12-to-1 ratio), which ranks second in the nation. He is limiting opponents to a .159 average in 53 innings pitched.

Duchene ranks in the Top 10 in the nation with a 1.19 ERA and boasts a career-best 10-1 record as the Illini No. 1 starter. He has an 8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with 80 punch outs and 10 free passes. The Joliet, Illinois, native is 23-3 during his three years as an Illini, including a perfect 11-0 in Big Ten games. He is holding hitters to a .222 average in 83 innings.

This is the 29th year of the Dick Howser Trophy, presented by Easton Foundations. The finalists will be announced on Wednesday, June 10. The 2015 award will be presented at TD Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha, the home of the College World Series for the fifth year. The winner will be unveiled on MLBNetwork on Friday, June 12 and then a press conference with the winner will be held on Saturday, June 13 at 10 a.m. (CDT), the opening day of the 2015 CWS.

The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager, who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball's most prestigious award. Criteria for consideration of the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser's life.

The winner's name is inscribed on the permanent trophy, a bronze bust of Howser displayed at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg - home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Both the winner and his school receive a special trophy to keep.

The Howser Trophy was created in 1987, shortly after Howser's death. Previous winners of the Howser Trophy are Mike Fiore, Miami, 1987; Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State, 1988; Scott Bryant, Texas, 1989; Alex Fernandez, Miami-Dade Community College South, 1990; Frank Rodriguez, Howard College (Texas), 1991; Brooks Kieschnick, Texas, 1992 and 1993; Jason Varitek, Georgia Tech, 1994; Todd Helton, Tennessee, 1995; Kris Benson, Clemson, 1996; J. D. Drew, Florida State, 1997; Eddy Furniss, LSU, 1998; Jason Jennings, Baylor, 1999; Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech, 2000; Mark Prior, P, USC, 2001, Khalil Greene, SS, Clemson, 2002; Rickey Weeks, 2B, Southern U., 2003; Jered Weaver, P, Long Beach State, 2004; Alex Gordon, 3B, Nebraska, 2005; Brad Lincoln, P/DH, Houston, 2006; David Price, P, Vanderbilt, 2007; Buster Posey, C, Florida State, 2008; Stephen Strasburg, P, San Diego State, 2009; Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice, 2010; Taylor Jungmann, P, Texas, 2011; Mike Zunino, C, Florida, 2012; Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego, 2013; A.J. Reed, P/1B, Kentucky, 2014.

Name, Pos., School
Harrison Bader, OF, Florida
Matt Beay, 3B, Belmont
Carmen Benedetti, DH, Michigan
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas
David Berg, RP, UCLA
Austin Byler, 1B, Nevada
Taylor Clarke, SP, Col. of Charleston
Will Craig, 1B, Wake Forest
Carson Cross, SP, UConn
Bobby Dalbec, UTL, Arizona
Paul DeJong, 2B, Illinois State
Donnie Dewees, OF North Florida
Kevin Duchene, SP, Illinois
Riley Ferrell, RP, TCU
Michael Freeman, SP, Oklahoma State
Carson Fulmer, SP, Vanderbilt
Luke Gillingham, SP, Navy
Charley Gould, 1B, William & Mary
Logan Gray, 3B, Austin Peay
Ryan Howell, 2B, Nevada
Tyler Jay, RP, Illinois
Kevin Kaczmarski, OF, Evansville
Alex Lange, SP, LSU
Grayson Long, SP, Texas A&M
Nate Mondou, 2B, Wake Forest
Preston Morrison, SP, TCU
Chris Robinson, C, Morehead State
Melvin Rodriguez, 2B, Jackson State
Kade Scivicque, C, LSU
Mike Shawaryn, SP, Maryland
Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
Matt Thaiss, C, Virginia
David Thompson, 3B Miami
Zander Wiel, 1B, Vanderbilt
Carl Wise, 3B, College of Charleston

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