Villines Named to Midseason Stopper of the Year Watch List
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) named Kansas baseball sophomore closer Stephen Villines to the Midseason Stopper of the Year Watch List, the organization announced Tuesday.
In its 11th year, the Stopper of the Year Award is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball. The midseason watch list will be whittled down to five finalists, June 3, prior to the start of NCAA Super Regional competition, with the winner being announced during the 2015 College World Series.
“Stephen has absolute great makeup to be a closer,” head coach Ritch Price said. “In order to be a closer and pitch with the game on the line where every pitch dictates whether your team wins or loses, you have to be really competitive to be successful in that role. He loves to compete, loves to win and he is out there pitching for his teammates. I am thrilled for him and he is a great Jayhawk.”
In 19 appearances in 2015, Villines has thrown 37 innings for a record of 2-3 and a 3.89 ERA. He has had his hands involved in 11 of KU’s 16 wins, including nine saves which ranks second in the Big 12 and 16th in the nation. His 41 strikeouts ranks second on the squad, while he has only allowed 12 free passes.
His best performance of the year came Friday night against Texas (April 17) where he tossed a career-high five innings of relief in extra innings, striking out a career-high eight batters in the loss. His nine saves on the year put his career total to 17, which ranks third in the KU record books and second among active career leaders in the Big 12.
“We have had a string of great closers here at the University of Kansas,” Price said. “Stephen is just another great example of that.”
In 2014, Villines was named NCBWA Second-Team Freshman All-American, to the All-Big 12 Honorable Mention squad and the Big 12 All-Freshman Team. In 29 games the side-arm slinger tossed 48 innings for a 1.50 ERA and finished the season with a KU freshman-best eight saves.
Villines and the rest of the KU baseball team wrap up its 10-game homestand Tuesday, April 21, hosting Wichita State for the final game of the home-and-home series. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. and can be seen on the Jayhawk Television Network and ESPN3 outside the coverage area. For more information visit KUAthletics.com/JTV.
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