NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Vanderbilt pitching duo of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter have been named among five finalists for the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy, announced by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association on Thursday.
Vanderbilt boasted multiple finalists for just the third time in program history as the Commodores remain the only school to do so in the history of the award.
The Vandy duo joined Kevin Kopps of Arkansas, Mathieu Nelson of Florida State and Jace Jung of Texas Tech as the five finalists for the award.
The award is presented annually to the top amateur baseball player who symbolizes the major principles of character, leadership, desire and competitive spirit exhibited by Dick Howser, the All-America shortstop, head coach at Florida State and manager of the 1985 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. He also is the namesake of Florida State’s Dick Howser Stadium.
One of the nation’s top arms, Rocker has been a force on the Vanderbilt pitching staff all season. The right-hander ranks second in the nation and leads the SEC in wins with 12 on the campaign which are two shy of the Vanderbilt single-season record.
The former National Freshman of the Year has worked an SEC-leading 98.1 innings this season while ranking second in the conference in strikeouts with 146. The Athens, Georgia, product was named to the All-SEC First Team following the regular season marking the second time in his career receiving conference postseason honors.
Leiter has been impressive for the Commodores this season. In his first career SEC start, Leiter threw a no-hitter against No. 16 South Carolina, picking up 16 strikeouts in the effort. He went on to work 20.2 consecutive no-hit innings following up with seven no-hit frames at Missouri in the next week and four no-hit frames at LSU the week after.
Leiter leads the nation in strikeouts with 146 on the campaign while striking out 10 or more batters in eight of his 15 starts.
The Summit, New Jersey, native also leads the conference in strikeouts looking with 48. He ranks third in the nation in hits allowed per nine innings with a mark of 3.94 mark while placing first in the SEC. Leiter has only allowed more than three hits in just three of his 15 starts this season.
The right-hander owns nine wins on the season, which tie him for sixth in the league. Leiter was tabbed as the SEC Newcomer of the Year for his spectacular performance this season, while also being named to the All-SEC First Team.
The winner of the award will be announced June 18 during a national news conference call prior to the 74th NCAA College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.