Villines named to Stopper of the Year Watch List
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) named senior captain and right-handed closer for the Kansas baseball team, Stephen Villines, to the 2017 Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List, as announced by the association.
In its 13th year, the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball. A total of 60 names appear on the initial watch list, with more than a third of the players on the list recording double-digit saves a year ago.
Villines has been the most reliable reliever out of the Kansas bullpen the last three seasons and has pitched in every role Kansas skipper Ritch Price has asked. He has been named to the All-Big 12 Second Team (2016), All-Big 12 Honorable Mention Team (2014 & 2015), Big 12 All-Freshman Team (2014) and the NCBWA Freshman All-American Second Team (2014) during his tenure on the hill.
In three seasons, Villines has logged 151 and 2/3 innings in 82 appearances out of the bullpen – both more than any other reliever during that span. He has compiled a 2.37 career ERA and has struck out 126 batters compared to 35 walks allowed, all while holding opponents to a .245 batting average. In the process, Villines has racked up the third-most saves in Kansas history (26) and is just five behind KU great Don Czyz (31) – who won the Stopper of the Year Award in 2006.
In 2016, Villines posted a team-best 2.13 ERA in 50 and 2/3 innings pitched. He stuck out 47 batters in 25 appearances, averaging just over two innings per outing. He held opponents to a .235 average and racked up five saves, compiling a 5-2 record on the season.
Kansas opens the season Friday, February 17 at The Citadel, where it will also play Liberty (Feb. 18) and the 2015 NCAA National Champion and No. 16-ranked Virginia Cavaliers (Feb. 19).
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