Senior Nick Garland of the Central Connecticut baseball team was named to the 2018 Johnny Bench Award watch list on Tuesday it was announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award is given annually to the top NCAA Division I catcher.
"We are extremely appreciative to BaseballSavings.com and Mr. Johnny Bench for supporting this prestigious award," stated Bob Hanson, President/CEO of the Sports Commission. "They are the ones who make all of this possible."
Garland has established as a stalwart behind the plate for CCSU. He currently has a team-high two homeruns on the season and his hitting .250 with six runs scored and four RBIs. He helped the Blue Devils to the 2017 Northeast Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. He helped the CCSU pitching staff post a league-low ERA and give up the fewest walks in the league. Garland earned all-star honors while playing with the Brockton Rox of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League last summer.
The initial watch list included 97 nominees and will be updated to include other candidates until April 30. The semifinalist list will be announced on May 16 before three finalists will be announced on June 4. A final vote will occur during the College World Series and the three finalists will attend the 21st Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 28 where the winner will be announced.
The award is named for Johnny Bench who was a 14-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner. He was National League Rookie of the Year (1968), National League MVP (1970, 1972) and World Series MVP (1976). Bench was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
The Blue Devils are scheduled to be back in action on Friday, March 9, against Massachusetts at CCSU Baseball Field. The teams are also slated to play a doubleheader on Saturday.