|CHICAGO (NCBWA) – In a season in which
there were many team "overcomers" in NCAA Division I baseball, the 13th
annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers All-America Team reflects
a solid group of student-athletes, many of whom overachieved in taking their
teams to new heights in 2001.
The 2001 selections, released Wednesday by NCBWA, include five players
from NCAA World Series first-time entrants Tulane and Nebraska.
The first unit also is loaded with all-star starting pitchers in the
persons of Southern California's Mark Prior, Middle Tennessee's Dewon Brazelton
and Notre Dame's Aaron Heilman. That trio had a combined record of 42-3
through games of June 4, and Prior and Brazelton were the second and third
selections overall, respectively, in Tuesday's first round of the Major
League Baseball draft. The three standouts also struck out a composite 464
opposing hitters in 372 2/3 innings while the relief pitchers on the first
team combined for 31 saves.
All nine standouts who were named 2001 NCBWA Players of the Year for
Division I made one of the first three units as the first unit had almost
a complete turnover from the 2000 NCBWA All-America team.
The middle infield includes two of the top hitters-fielders in the nation
in Dick Howser Trophy finalist SS Chris Burke of Tennessee and 2B Chris
O'Riordan of Stanford, which joins the Volunteers in the eight-team NCAA
World Series field.
Burke was chosen Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference and
is the No. 8 batting average man in NCAA Division I statistics prior to
the CWS with a .439 mark, 19 home runs and 39 RBI.
O'Riordan scored the winning run in Stanford's 10-9 victory over Texas
in the 2001 Stanford Regional and has been a solid cog in the Cardinal's
offense all year with a .374 average, 12 homers and 66 RBI.
Miami's Javy Rodriguez, who is the nation's base stealing leader with
66 for the World Series-bound Hurricanes, is the very capable second team
shortstop with a .384 average, five homers and 58 RBI. Backing O'Riordan
on the NCBWA All-America second team contingent is Memphis' Daniel Uggla,
who rose from relative obscurity to pace the Tigers with a .379 average,
18 homer and 67 RBI.
The first team third baseman, Jake Gautreau of Tulane, also had very
credible numbers as a sophomore in 2000, but few envisioned that he would
lead the Green Wave of Conference USA to a 55-11 record, a NCAA New Orleans
Super Regional victory over LSU, and the team's initial trip to the World
Series under head coach Rick Jones this year. The hard-hitting 3B is batting
.354 with 20 homers and 91 RBI at the 65-game mark. The second unit third
baseman had similar success as Clemson's Jeff Baker belted 23 home runs
and drove in 75 runs.
Fellow first-timer in Omaha 1B Dan Johnson (24 HR, 85 RBI to lead the
Big 12 Conference) of Nebraska joins Baylor catcher Kelly Shoppach as their
conference's first team representatives. In the designated hitter/utility-athlete
position arguably the nation's top slugger is on the No. 1 team.
Kent State's John VanBenschoten not only used his hitting to get KSU
into the 2001 NCAA Regionals, but he also showed pitching prowess with a
2-2 record, 2.77 ERA and eight saves in 21 appearances. His power numbers
included a current national-leading 31 home runs with 84 RBI for the Mid-American
Conference representative in the 2001 NCAA meet.
The starting outfield for the 2001 NCBWA All-America squad includes the
top hitter in the Pacific-10 Conference, UCLA's Brian Baron (.443), along
with a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference stalwarts. Florida State's John-Ford
Griffin, whose team made it to Omaha in 2000 but was edged out for a 2001
berth by Georgia, hit .450 to post the nation's fourth-best batting average
while Wake Forest's Cory Sullivan finished the year at .390 with 13 home
runs and 67 RBI.
In all, the 43 student-athletes comprising the top three teams of elite
diamondmen represent the cream of the college diamond crop and the seven
finalists from which the 2001 Dick Howser Trophy will be chosen on Friday,
June 8, with a 10:30 a.m. (CDT) news conference in the Old Lobby (2nd Floor)
of the Marriott Courtyard in Omaha. The seven are Brazelton, Burke, Heilman,
Nebraska first baseman Dan Johnson, catcher Casey Myers of Arizona State,
Prior, and VanBenschoten.
• Complete release
with individual statistics (.pdf)