CARY, N.C. – East Carolina sophomore Connor Norby and junior Gavin Williams are two of 25 semifinalists for the 2021 Golden Spikes Award, given to the top amateur baseball player of the year, USA Baseball announced Tuesday.
The duo are the second and third Pirates to be named semifinalists joining Corey Kemp in 2008.
Norby, who has started all 59 games this season at second base, was named the American Athletic Conference Player-of-the-Year and a Collegiate Baseball Second-Team All-America selection. He enters the Nashville Super Regional ranked second nationally in hits (100) and total bases (160), while also ranking among the leaders in hits per game (sixth/1.69), batting average (eighth/.418), runs (10th/64), on-base percentage (38th/.487), home runs (42nd/15), runs per game (42nd/1.08) and slugging percentage (47th/.669).
The Kernersville, N.C. native became the fourth player in program history to register 100 hits in a season and did it in fewer games (58) than any other student-athlete. Also, a Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist, he has tallied at least one hit in 51 of 59 games (multiple 33 times) and has plated at least one run in 27 contests (multiple on 12 occasions) – both leading the team. Norby also leads the club in home runs (15) and RBI (51) and is tied for the team lead in runs scored (64) with Thomas Francisco. He set the school record with a 56-game on-base streak that started in 2020 and ended at USF on May 21.
Williams, the 2021 AAC Pitcher-of-the-Year and a Collegiate Baseball First-Team All-America choice, stans among the national leaders in Ks per 9 innings (sixth/14.23), wins (seventh/10), ERA (ninth/1.82), strikeouts (20th/117), K to BB ratio (32nd/6.16) and hits allowed per 9 innings (34th/6.08). He has allowed just 16 runs (16 earned) on 50 hits in 74.0 innings.
Standing fourth on the Pirates single-season strikeouts chart, the Dick Howser semifinalist went unbeaten during league play posting a 7-0 ledger where he struck out 69 batters and walked just nine. He surrendered just eight runs (all earned) on 29 hits in 41.1 innings and sported a 1.74 ERA. He enters the Nashville Super Regional having won nine of 11 starts and has recorded double-digit strike outs in a game five times (eight-plus in his last 10 outings).
East Carolina is one of three schools that boasts multiple semifinalists in 2021, with Mississippi State and Vanderbilt also featuring two athletes on the list. In total, at least one athlete from 10 different NCAA conferences has earned semifinalist honors this year. The Southeastern Conference leads all conferences represented with six athletes named semifinalists, while five players represent the Atlantic Coast Conference, and three hail from both the Pac-12 and the Big 12.
Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman took home the prestigious award most recently in 2019, joining a group of recent winners that include Andrew Vaughn (2018), Brendan McKay (2017), Kyle Lewis (2016), Andrew Benintendi (2015), A.J. Reed (2014), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Trevor Bauer (2011), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Buster Posey (2008), and David Price (2007).
Beginning with the announcement of the semifinalists, a ballot will be sent to a voting body consisting of baseball media members, select professional baseball personnel, current USA Baseball staff and the previous winners of the award, representing a group of more than 200 voters. As part of this selection process, all voters will be asked to choose three players from the list of semifinalists. On June 24, USA Baseball will announce the finalists, and voting for the winner will begin that same day.
Fan voting will once again be a part of the Golden Spikes Award in 2021. Beginning with the semifinalist announcement and continuing through the finalist round voting deadline on Tuesday, June 15, fans from across the country will be able to vote for their favorite player on GoldenSpikesAward.com.
The winner of the 43rd Golden Spikes Award will be named in July.