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Wagner, Gonzales finalists for Dick Howser Trophy

May 21, 2012

DALLAS -- A pair of West Coast Conference sophomores have been named semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, it was announced Friday. Gonzaga University's Marco Gonzales and San Diego's Michael Wagner are candidates for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's award, presented by Easton Foundations. This award, given to the top player in collegiate baseball, is given on two rounds of national voting.

Gonzales, a first baseman and left-handed pitcher, has made 36 appearances this season. The Fort Collins, Colo., native owns a .333 batting average with eight doubles, two home runs and 21 RBI at the plate, while on the mound he is 6-2 with a 1.76 ERA, which is 22nd-best in the nation. He has also struck out 72 and walked 19 batters in 76 2/3 innings pitched.

Wagner, a 6-4 sophomore right-handed pitcher from Las Vegas, Nev., has helped lead USD to an impressive 39-13 overall record and in first place in the WCC. Wagner is 4-1 overall as the Torero closer, while leading the nation with 19 saves. The 19 saves is both a new USD and WCC single-season record. Wagner has posted an ERA of 2.08, while striking out 46 batters and only issuing 16 walks.

This is the 26th year of the Dick Howser Trophy presented by Easton Foundations. The award will be presented at TD Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha, Neb., the home of the NCAA College World Series for the second year. The award will be presented on June 15 at 9 a.m. PT, the opening day of the 2012 CWS.

The candidates hail from 17 different conferences and 32 different schools. The Big 12 Conference leads the way with six semifinalists, followed by the Southeastern Conference with five, ACC with three and the Colonial Athletic Association, Conference USA, Southland, Southern and West Coast Conferences with two. Every position on the diamond but shortstop is represented, including 10 starting pitchers, five outfielders, four catchers, second basemen and relief pitchers, three first basemen, two third basemen and utility players and one designated hitter, among this diversified group.

The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager, who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball's most prestigious award. Criteria for consideration of the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser's life.A Florida native, Howser was twice an All-America shortstop at Florida State (1957-58), then coached the Seminoles in 1979, after a career as a major league player and coach. After one year in the college ranks, Howser returned to the majors to manage the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals and won the World Series with the Royals in 1985. The baseball stadium on the Florida State campus is named for Howser.

"The Dick Howser Trophy was founded shortly after his death by a few friends of Dick's in the St. Petersburg Area that played, coached and worked with him," said David Feaster of the Howser Trophy Committee. "All knew him personally and were aware of him as a tremendous player, coach and friend. The award was initially awarded at the Governors Baseball Dinner held each spring in St. Petersburg to welcome Spring Training to Fla. and as time progressed, we moved the presentation to Omaha, the center of college baseball, during the World Series. I have been involved with the award for over 20 years and have loved every minute of my involvement. I have had the opportunity to meet some great college players as well as some great young men. I am so proud of the Character quality we have in our award, which makes it unique. I am also proud of our selection process by the NCBWA which is the most democratic of any award and provides a true national scope.

"The Dick Howser trophy is now 26 years old and growing stronger," added Feaster. "It is a true testimony to Dick Howser's ability as a player, coach and gentlemen. I am proud to be associated with it."

The winner's name is inscribed on the permanent trophy, a bronze bust of Howser displayed at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg - home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Both the winner and his school receive a special trophy to keep.

NCBWA membership includes writers, broadcasters and publicists. Designed to promote and publicize college baseball, it is the sport's only college media-related organization, founded in 1962.

The College Baseball Foundation was established in 2004 and has inducted 64 greats into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock. The group promotes the highest ideals and recognition of greatness on college baseball diamonds in the 153 years since the first intercollegiate contest in 1859 between Amherst and Williams.The groups came together in 2012 to select the Dick Howser Trophy, Brooks Wallace Award (Division I Shortstop of the Year), NCBWA Stopper of the Year, CBF Pitcher of the Year, John Olerud Award (top two-way player) and NCBWA National Coach of the Year. The All-America and Freshman All-America teams, the Freshman Player and Pitcher of the Year also are also being presented by the NCBWA.

The Howser Trophy was created in 1987, shortly after Howser's death. Previous winners of the Howser Trophy are Mike Fiore, Miami, 1987; Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State, 1988; Scott Bryant, Texas, 1989; Alex Fernandez, Miami-Dade Community College South, 1990; Frank Rodriguez, Howard College (Texas), 1991; Brooks Kieschnick, Texas, 1992 and 1993; Jason Varitek, Georgia Tech, 1994; Todd Helton, Tennessee, 1995; Kris Benson, Clemson, 1996; J. D. Drew, Florida State, 1997; Eddy Furniss, LSU, 1998; Jason Jennings, Baylor, 1999; Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech, 2000; Mark Prior, P, USC, 2001, Khalil Greene, SS, Clemson, 2002; Rickey Weeks, 2B, Southern U., 2003; Jered Weaver, P, Long Beach State, 2004; Alex Gordon, 3B, Nebraska, 2005; Brad Lincoln, P/DH, Houston, 2006; David Price, P, Vanderbilt, 2007; Buster Posey, C, Florida State, 2008; Stephen Strasburg, P, San Diego State, 2009; Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice, 2010 and Taylor Jungmann, P, Texas, 2011.

2012 DICK HOWSER TROPHY SEMIFINALISTS
Pos. Name, School
Mark Appel, P, Stanford
Robert Benincasa, RP, Florida State
Sean Bignall, OF, Arkansas-Little Rock
Trent Blank, P, Baylor
Austin Elkins, 2B, Dallas Baptist
Goose Kallunki, 1B, Utah Valley
Marty Gantt, OF, College of Charleston
Marco Gonzales, UT, Gonzaga
Andrew Heaney, P, Oklahoma State
Brock Hebert, 2B, Southeastern Louisiana
D.J. Hicks, 1B, UCF
Daniel Kassouf, DH, Appalachian State
Stefan Lopez, RP, Southeastern Louisiana
Michael Lorenzen, UT, Cal State Fullerton
Josh Ludy, C, Baylor
Luke Maile, C, Kentucky
Jamodrick McGruder, 2B, Texas Tech
Trenton Moses, 3B, Southeast Missouri
Chris O'Grady, RP, George Mason
D.J. Petersen, 3B, New Mexico
Nick Petree, P, Missouri State
Kevin Plawecki, C, Purdue
Danny Poma, OF, Hofstra
James Ramsey, OF, Florida State
Matthew Reckling, P, Rice
Carlos Rodon, P, NC State
Chris Rowley, P, Army
Raph Rhymes, OF, LSU
Zach Stephens, 1B, Tennessee Tech
Chris Stratton, P, Mississippi State
Ross Stripling, P, Texas A&M
Michael Wacha, P, Texas A&M
Michael Wagner, RP, San Diego
Alex Yarbrough, 2B, Ole Miss
Mike Zunino, C, Florida

--from gozags.com, usdtoreros.com