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Olerud Award semifinal list full of NCAA tournament talent

LUBBOCK, Texas -- As the NCAA tournament begins this week, the chase for the 2016 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award is nearing its conclusion with the announcement of nine semifinalists.

Of the semifinalists, six are playing for teams that will begin their quests for a trip to the College World Series on Friday, including last year's Olerud Award winner in ace Brendan McKay from No. 2 seed Louisville as well as slugging infielder Darick Hall of the Missouri Valley Champion Dallas Baptist Patriots.

"Every single player on the list of semifinalists is very deserving of this award, which is what makes it so hard to get down to the final names," said George Watson, co-chairman of the Olerud Award committee. "You've got tremendously talented players, some of whom came into the season with great expectations and others who have helped carry their teams past preseason prognostications. Whoever wins this award will be a fantastic representative of what the Olerud Award is all about."

The award is named for the former Washington State University standout who achieved success both as a first baseman and left-handed pitcher during the late 1980s and who was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. The award will be presented as part of the Hall of Fame's Night of Champions celebration July 2 in Lubbock.

Maybe the surprise of the group is Hall, who has sparked a Dallas Baptist team that started the year losing several seniors from an NCAA-host squad. He has the Patriots back in the NCAA postseason as a No. 2 seed by hitting .300 with 18 home runs and 68 RBIs, while on the hill going 8-3 with a 3.41 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 89 2/3 innings.

As the current award holder from 2015, McKay has had an impressive sophomore season. In leading the Cardinals to the overall No. 2 seed in the tournament as the team's Friday night starter, McKay has gone 11-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 96 innings. At the plate he is hitting .330 with four home runs and 37 RBIs.

Hot on their heels, however, is Virginia left-hander Adam Haseley, who has the defending champions back in the NCAA regionals as a host as well. Haseley is 9-3 with a 1.73 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 78 innings and has hit .295 with six home runs and 33 RBIs. Then, of course, there is first-team All-ACC slugger Will Craig, who has mashed the ball this season to the tune of a .392 average with 16 home runs and 65 RBIs. On the mound, he's gone 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA and eight saves for the Demon Deacons.

Junior Matt Fielder led the Minnesota Golden Gophers to the Big Ten regular season title by hitting .377 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs as well as going 7-3 with a 4.10 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings.

To make the list of semifinalists, candidates must have at least 20 innings pitched or played the field in at least 75 percent of their team's games.

For more information on the Olerud Award or the College Baseball Hall of Fame's Night of Champions, visit www.collegebaseballhall.org.


2016 JOHN OLERUD TWO-WAY PLAYER OF THE YEAR SEMIFINALISTS

Name

School

Conference

Will Craig

Wake Forest

ACC

Adam Haseley

Virginia

ACC

Brendan McKay

Louisville

ACC

Corbin Olmstead

North Florida

Atlantic Sun

Matt Fiedler

Minnesota

Big 10

Sheldon Neuse

Oklahoma

Big 12

Darick Hall

Dallas Baptist

Missouri Valley

Andrew Hinckley

Central Connecticut State

Northeast

Bobby Dalbec

Arizona

Pac-12

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