Thursday, April 26, 2018

Lions’ Schwaner Semifinalist for Dick Howser Trophy

Lions’ Schwaner Semifinalist for Dick Howser Trophy
Posted: May 19, 2017
Categories: Front Page, Lion UP
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HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana third baseman Taylor Schwaner is a semifinalist for the 2017 Dick Howser Trophy. The award, presented annually by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association to the top player in collegiate baseball, is based on two rounds of national voting.

A junior from Slidell, Louisiana, Schwaner enters the final weekend of the regular season hitting .335, with 13 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs, 68 RBI and 14 stolen bases.

Schwaner ranks fourth nationally in RBI and is tied for the Southland Conference lead in home runs. His slugging percentage (.665) is second in the Southland and his on-base percentage (.457) ranks fourth.

The graduate of Holy Cross HS (New Orleans, Louisiana) has 17 multi-hit performances, including hitting for the cycle against nationally ranked UL Lafayette. He punctuated the feat with a walk-off home run in the 14th inning, one of two he has hit this season. He's driven in multiple runs on 20 occasions.

Earlier this season, Schwaner was named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week. During the opening week of conference play, he hit .500 (8-for-16) and smashed four home runs against West Virginia and Southland foe New Orleans, becoming the first Lion in recent memory to homer in three consecutive games.

In early April, he again homered in three straight games. Schwaner drove five balls out of the ballpark over a span of nine plate appearances, April 8-13, against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Northwestern State.

Schwaner’s inclusion marks back-to-back seasons a Southeastern player has made the semifinalist cut for the Dick Hoswer Trophy, following former teammate Jameson Fisher in 2016.

This is the 31st year of the Dick Howser Trophy. The finalists will be announced on Friday, June 9. The 2017 award will be presented at TD Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha, the home of the College World Series for the seventh year. The winner will be unveiled on MLB Network on Friday, June 16 and then a press conference with the winner will be held on Saturday, June 17 at 10 a.m. (CDT), the opening day of the 2017 CWS.

The candidates hail from 11 different conferences and 21 different schools. The Atlantic Coast Conference leads the way with six semifinalists, followed by the Southeastern Conference with four, Big 12 and Pac-12 with three, Missouri Valley and Ohio Valley with two each and American Athletic, Big Ten, Conference USA, Southland and West Coast Conferences with one each. Every position on the diamond is represented, including six starting pitchers, four first basemen, four outfielders, three shortstops, two third basemen, two second basemen, two utility players, one catcher and one relief pitcher.

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 who played, coached and worked with him,” said David Feaster, chairman 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 Florida 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 more than 25 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 31 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 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; Taylor Jungmann, P, Texas, 2011; Mike Zunino, C, Florida, 2012; Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego, 2013; A.J. Reed, P/1B, Kentucky, 2014; Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas, 2015; and Seth Beer, OF, Clemson, 2016.