Six players have been named finalists for the inaugural Gregg Olson Award presented by Toolshed Sports. The honor is to be given to college baseball’s breakout player of the year. The award will be presented to a top amateur baseball player who elevates his game to an elite level throughout the season.
The award is named after former Auburn pitching great and two-time All American Gregg Olson. After a freshman season at Auburn filled with only mixed success, Olson became one of the top collegiate players in the nation during an outstanding, unprecedented sophomore season. Despite being omitted from any preseason All American lists, Olson went on to lead the entire nation in ERA with a 1.26 mark and compiled an incredible 11-1 record with 10 saves for the Tigers. Following a summer pitching for the USA National Team where he lead the club in strikeouts, Olson returned to Auburn for another spectacular season. He led the SEC with a 2.00 ERA and amassed a triple-digit strikeout total, issuing 113 K’s in only 72 innings with only 27 walks. He finished his collegiate career with back-to-back First Team All American honors, a 25-7 record, 3.03 ERA, 20 saves, 271 strikeouts and redefined the way college coaches used their top pitcher.
The Olson Award was developed to honor college baseball’s success stories and showcase players like Olson who have raised the level of their game through hard work, strength of mind and determination. Eligible players will be those who are omitted from major publication’s preseason All American prognostications; however by the end of the season their on the field performance will demonstrate that they are among the top amateur baseball players in the nation.
The six finalists are:
Scott Baker, Ball State Cardinals
Last season Baker was 0-1 in 15 appearances with a 6.15 ERA in 33.2 innings. It was a complete turnaround in 2013 for the sophomore hurler who was named the Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year after one of the best pitching season in Ball State history. Baker went 12-2 with a stellar 2.18 ERA and held opposition to a .227 batting average. He pitched 111.2 innings, which included five complete games with 88 strikeouts and only 35 walks.
Kerry Doane, East Tennessee State Bucs
Doane was a valuable member of the Bucs last season as he hit both hit and pitched, but didn’t put up remarkable numbers doing either. The senior pitcher already being named a Louisville Slugger First Team All American, a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and was ETSU’s first Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year. Doane went 13-2 with a 2.14 ERA, which included a nation leading 12 complete games and four shutouts. He amassed 147 innings in which he held opposition to a .238 batting average and struck out 77 batters.
Ryan Huck, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Huck’s numbers had been getting progressively worse during his college career, bottoming out with a .232 average with three home runs last season. However the senior slugging first baseman was recognized as the Sun Belt Conference player of the three times this season which was followed up with a first team all-conference selection after a sensational season. Huck hit .367 with 16 home runs which is tied for eighth in the nation. He also added 16 doubles and walked 38 times which gave him a .694 slugging percentage and .469 on base percentage for the season.
Scott Sitz, Florida State Seminoles
Sitz’s breakout season started at the end of last year when he pitched his best game at the College World Series. For the season however he was rather pedestrian, going 4-3 with a 3.72 ERA. Sitz has been dominating all season long this year and has the Seminoles in position for another trip to Omaha. The senior pitcher is 10-1 with a tiny 1.59 ERA. He’s been a part of three shutouts and fanned 75 batters in 90.1 innings with only 20 walks and held opposition to a .251 while pitching in the ultracompetive ACC.
Mike Tauchman, Bradley Braves
It’s hard for a player to be a breakout star after a season in which he batted .305 and was honorable mention all conference, but Tauchman took his game to a whole new level in 2013. The senior outfielder was named the Missouri Valley Player of the Year and was named to the Louisville Slugger All American Second Team as he led the nation in hitting with a .425 average. He hit 16 doubles, five triples and successfully stole 28 of 30 bases for the Braves.
Ryan Thompson, Campbell Camels
Thompson put up decent numbers at Chemekta CC last season, but none that were indicative of the success he’d have this year at Campbell. The junior pitcher was one of the reasons the Camels had one of their best seasons in program history as he was brilliant out of the bullpen, going 9-1 with 10 saves in 31 appearances. His ERA for the season was 0.88, which is currently second in the nation. He only allowed 51 hits in 71.2 innings while striking out 57 and was named the Big South’s Pitcher of the Year as well as a Louisville Slugger All American Second Team member.
The winner of the 2013 Gregg Olson Award will be named in Omaha, Nebraska during the College World Series which is to be held this season at TD Ameritrade Park from June 15-June 25/26. Initial nominations were made by sports information/media contacts and voting was conducted by a panel of college baseball media members.
For more information about the award visit www.olsonaward.com.