Big Ten Baseball Players Earn Preseason Recognition
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Michigan junior Zach Putnam was selected as a first-team preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and a member of the 2008 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award Watch List, the respective organizations recently announced. Joining Putnam on the Wallace Watch List are teammate Derek VanBuskirk, Minnesota's Nate Hanson and Matt Nohelty, Northwestern's Jake Owens, Ohio State's Justin Miller, Penn State's Drew O'Neil and Purdue's Matt Bischoff and Ryne White.
The NCBWA Preseason All-America Teams form the base for the 2008 Pro-Line Athletic All-America squad and the 22nd annual Dick Howser Trophy. The Wallace Award is presented to the nation's top collegiate baseball player in conjunction with the College Baseball Hall of Fame's annual induction festivities.
Putnam became the first player in Big Ten history to be named first-team All-Big Ten at two different positions in the same year as he earned the honors as a designated hitter and a pitcher last season. Putnam finished 2007 with a .330 batting average, 59 RBI and an 8-5 record with a 3.87 ERA on the mound. The junior also took a no-hitter into the ninth inning of Game 1 of last year's NCAA Super Regionals as Michigan took on eventual national champion Oregon State.
Wolverine senior Derek VanBuskirk posted a .384 batting average in 46 games last season, tallying 11 doubles, two triples and three homers for a .548 slugging percentage. On defense, VanBuskirk provided three outfield assists and came up with a clutch over-the-wall catch to preserve Michigan's win over No. 1 Vanderbilt in the NCAA Regionals.
First-team All-Big Ten selections a year ago, Hanson and Nohelty led Minnesota to the program's first NCAA Championship appearance since 2004. Hanson paced the Gophers with 10 home runs on a .338 batting average and .533 slugging. Nohelty hit .367 in 2007 and reached base at a .436 clip while leading his team with 24 steals. Nohelty was also an Academic All-American as a sophomore.
Owens led Northwestern with a .385 batting average and 18 steals in 2007. As a junior, Owens set the Wildcats' single-season hits record with 85, and also finished second on the squad with 39 RBI.
Miller helped the Buckeyes to the school's eighth Big Ten Tournament title and 18th appearance in the NCAA Championship. Miller batted. 346 and contributed a team-leading 15 doubles and 51 RBI.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2007, O'Neil ended the season with a 4-2 record on the strength of a stingy 1.43 ERA. Tossing 33.2 innings over 23 relief appearances, O'Neil limited opponents to just a .188 batting average.
Purdue's Bischoff became the first Boilermaker in history to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, while White was a unanimous selection to the All-Conference first team. White led the Big Ten with a .452 average, also adding eight home runs, 47 RBI and 48 runs scored. Bischoff posted a 2.85 ERA last season, holding opponents to a .243 batting average. As a freshman, he was fourth in the conference with 61 strikeouts - 27 of which came looking.