St. Edward’s Brannon Easterling Wins 2013 Josh Willingham Award

easterlingBrannon Easterling, a junior pitcher for the St. Edward’s Hilltoppers, has been named the inaugural Josh Willingham Award winner. The honor goes to DII college baseball’s most valuable player.

Easterling was the ace of the St. Edward’s pitching staff which made its first ever trip to the DII Baseball Championships. The 6’5” righty from College Station, Texas tied for the national lead in victories and finished a historic Hilltopper campaign with a 2.10 ERA. He led the nation with an incredible 14 complete games, four of which were shutouts, and also topped the nation in innings pitched with 132.2. In his final game of the season he shutout Grand Canyon in the opening round of the DII Baseball Championships as he pitched SEU to a 1-0 win.

After the season Easterling was named to the second team on the American Baseball Coaches Association All-America Team was a third-team selection on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-America Team.

St. Edward’s Head Coach Rob Penders praised Easterling and stated he was an invaluable part of the Hilltopper team, “Brannon comes to the field everyday ready to compete. Whether he is scheduled to pitch that day or not, he always wants his teammates to win. After the regional this year, when he threw 17 innings over four days his first instinct was to praise his teammates and the effort they gave… In my 16 years of coaching college baseball, I am positive that I have never seen a greater competitor than Brannon. I’ve had more talented players that could win you a game at any point during the season, but if I had to choose between them or Brannon in a crucial situation I would choose Brannon hands down. He could win at checkers, chess or the OK Corral. He is a winner, and I’ll take him on my team any day.”

logo400pxEasterling edged Adam Pendleton, the catcher for the national champion Tampa Spartans, who finished a close second for the award. Fico Kondla of Coker was also not far behind at third and Franklin Pierce’s ace pitcher Trevor Graham finished fourth. Shippensburg’s Pat Kregeloh completed the top five.

About Josh Willingham
Willingham was a standout shortstop at the University of North Alabama.  While attending UNA, Willingham twice earned All American honors and helped lead the Lions to the 1999 DII Baseball Championship Tournament. His sophomore season Willingham Josh hit .489, which was third in the nation and he also placed in the top ten nationally in RBI with 86 and slugging percentage at .863. As a junior Willingham batted .420 with 75 RBI with 29 stolen bases despite batting an off-season injury which had put the entire year in jeopardy.  After his junior season Willingham was drafted by the Florida Marlins and has enjoyed a steady stream of success ever since, highlighted by being named a Silver Slugger for the Minnesota Twins in 2012 when he hit 35 homeruns with 110 RBI.

For more information on the Willingham Award visit www.willinghamaward.com.