DALLAS – East Carolina sophomore Connor Norby and junior Gavin Williams are two of 42 semifinalists for the 2021 Dick Howser Trophy, presented by The Game Headware the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) announced Friday afternoon.
The award, given to the top player in collegiate baseball, is based on two rounds of national voting.
Norby, who has started all 49 games this season at second base, leads the nation in hits (87) and owns the country’s longest active on-base streak which now sits at 56 games heading into Friday’s game at USF. He also stands among the national leaders in total bases (second/137), hits per game (third/1.78), batting average (fourth/.424) and runs (14th/55).
The Kenersville, N.C. native has registered a hit in 43 of 49 contests (multiple 29 times) and has plated at least one run in 24 of 49 games (multiple 10 times) – both leading the team. He has also added 12 home runs and driven in 42 runs, both ranking second on the team and leads the club in runs scored with 55.
Williams leads the American Athletic Conference in ERA (1.48), opposing batting average (.177), strikeouts (98) and wins (nine). The Fayetteville, N.C. native has started nine of 12 games posting a 9-0 record and has combined on three shutouts. He has allowed just 11 runs (10 earned) on 39 hits in 61.0 innings. Currently he stands among the NCAA leaders in victories (fifth), strikeouts per 9 innings (fifth/14.46), ERA (eighth) and WHIP (19th/0.90).
The right-hander 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.
This is the 34th year of the Dick Howser Trophy. The finalists will be announced on Thursday, June 10. Due to COVID-19 protocols at TD Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha, the home of the College World Series for the ninth year, the announcement of this year’s winner will be done via Zoom. The winner will be unveiled on MLB Network on Friday, June 19, and then, a press conference with the winner will be held after the announcement is made.
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 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; Seth Beer, OF, Clemson, 2016, Brendan McKay, P/1B, Louisville, 2017, Brady Singer, SP, Florida, in 2018 and Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon in 2019.