Senior right-fielder Beau Hearod was tabbed as the District III Player of the Year by the NCBWA, marking the second consecutive year and the third time since 1999 a Crimson Tide player as been honored by the baseball writers.
Jeremy Brown, a 2002 first-round draft selection by the Oakland Athletics and 2002 Johnny Bench award winner, was named District III Player of the Year last year by the NCBWA. Andy Phillips, the school's all-time home run leader, won the inaugural District III Player of the Year award in 1999 and was one of the three finalists for the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy, which is presented to the NCBWA Player of the Year.
From the ranks of these standouts, Southern University's Rickie Weeks was named the winner of the 2003 Dick Howser Trophy. The first-team NCBWA All-American and first-round draft pick was presented the award at a cermony at the 2003 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, June 13.
Pitcher Chris Lambert of Boston College is the first Eagle to cop NCBWA District I Player of the Year. An All-Big East First Team selection for the second straight season, he finished with an 8-2 record and was fourth in the Big East with a 2.71 earned run average. The sophomore also had seven complete games, 88 strikeouts and held opponents to a .216 average. Last season, he was just the second freshman in Big East history (Charles Nagy, Connecticut) to be named the league's Pitcher of the Year.
The District II honoree is Mike Rozema of St. John's. He led the Big East with a .408 batting average, a total that ranks 27th nationally. Named to the all-conference first team, the junior ranked in the top 10 in the Big East in both hits (80) and on base percentage (.460). He also totaled 44 runs, 12 doubles, four triples, 13 stolen bases and 33 RBI during 2003.
In District III, outfielder Beau Hearod of Alabama garners accolades. The senior started all 62 games for the Crimson Tide this season, leading the team with 20 home runs and 82 RBI to go along with a .346 batting average. An All-SEC First Team choice, he was also named the MVP of the SEC Championship. Hearod is the second straight Alabama player to win in the district, following catcher Jeremy Brown in 2002. Phillips won the inaugural District III Player of the Year award in 1999.
South Carolina pitcher David Marchbanks is the winner in District IV. The junior was named the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2003. He is tied for second in the nation in victories with a 14-2 record and a 2.36 ERA. He leads the SEC in wins, innings pitched (126) and earned run average. Marchbanks has 92 strikeouts this year, allowing just 19 walks. He is 30-7 in three years as a Gamecock.
District V features pitcher Scott Lewis of Ohio State. The Big Ten Conference Pitcher of the Year, Lewis leads the league in ERA (1.61), strikeouts (127), batters struck out looking (33) and opponent batting average (.160). The sophomore has been All-Big Ten First Team each of his first two seasons and was the leading pitcher for the Buckeyes with a 9-1 record and 83.2 innings pitched. Earlier this year, he recorded 36 strikeouts in back-to-back outings, when he fanned 20 versus Iowa and followed with 16 against Indiana.
From District VI the NCBWA selected a Nebraska standout for the fourth straight year when first baseman Matt Hopper was named. The Big 12 Player of the Year, Hopper led the Huskers in nearly every offensive category with a .382 average, 89 hits, 74 runs, 22 home runs and 66 runs batted in. The fifth-year senior also holds school and conference career marks in five categories: hits (338); home runs (64); RBI (271); total bases (591) and runs scored (246). NU's Jeff Leise won the honor in 2002, following former Huskers Dan Johnson (2001) and Shane Komine (2000).
Two players share the organization's District VII choice - Tulane first baseman Michael Aubrey and second baseman Rickie Weeks of Southern. Aubrey was named the 2003 Conference USA Player of the Year, leading the league with a .420 average, 102 hits and 79 RBI. The junior also had 18 home runs and 20 doubles, plus a conference-best .505 on-base percentage. Aubrey is the third straight player from Tulane (James Jurries; Jake Gautreau) to win in the district award. Weeks was the No. 2 overall selection in this week's MLB draft. The junior leads the nation in hitting with a .479 batting average. He also ranks among the national leaders in home runs (16, 0.31 per game), triples (7, 0.14) and runs batted in (66, 1.29).
First baseman Billy Becher of New Mexico State is the District VIII Player of the Year. The junior leads the NCAA in both home runs (32) and RBI (118) and is the only player in the nation who has driven in more than 100 runs. The Sun Belt Conference Player and Newcomer of the Year, he finished '03 with a .420 batting, a mark that is 13th nationally. He had 105 hits, 76 runs scored, 16 doubles and a .900 slugging percentage. Becher is the second straight Aggie to win District VIII accolades, following outfielder Ryan Kenning's recognition in 2002.
Finally, the District IX selection was Dustin Pedrioa of Arizona State. A sophomore shortstop, he is No. 8 in the country with a .423 batting average. He broke the Pac-10 record for doubles (34) and has a league-best 120 hits, including 41 multi-hit games. He also had four separate hitting streaks of 10 or more games en route to sharing the Pac-10 Player of the Year award. The Tempe Regional Most Outstanding Performer, Pedrioa also tops his league with 83 runs scored, 284 at-bats, 172 total bases and 41 extra-base hits.
The nine geographic areas of each District are broken down as follows:
I: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania
II: Connecticut, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, District of Columbia
III: Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida
IV: Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland
V: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin
VI: Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
VII: Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana
VIII: Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Montana
IX: California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Arizona, Alaska