April 25, 2007
LINCOLN, Neb. - For his impressive performance coming out of the bullpen this year, Navy baseball freshman closer JD Melton (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) is one of 40 pitchers selected for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List, it was released by the association on Thursday night. The third annual award is presented to the top relief pitcher in Division I college baseball.
The finalists for the award will be announced on May 30, with the NCBWA's All-America Committee selecting the winner, which will be announced on June 6. Don Czyz from Kansas won the award last year and Texas' Brent Cox was presented with the inaugural award in 2005.
Melton has come in relief 16 times during his first season in Annapolis, owning a 2-1 record with a Patriot League-best nine saves and 2.81 ERA in 25.2 innings of work. The Navy right-hander has limited the opposition to a .227 batting average and has struck out 15 batters while walking only six.
The product of Myrtle Beach, S.C., already owns the Navy freshman record for saves (9), relief appearances (16) and games pitched (16). Melton needs only one more saves to tie the program's all-time single-season saves mark held by Ryan Hefner, who saved 10 ballgames last season. Melton is only two saves away from tying the school's career saves record and the Patriot League single-season saves record of 11 set by Bucknell's Phil Futrick in 2003.
Between Feb. 23 and April 9, Melton held the opposition scoreless for 16.0-consecutive innings, spanning nine relief outings. He has not issued a walk in eight-straight appearances and has yielded two or fewer base hits over seven of his last-eight times on the hill. In addition, he has recorded a win or a save in seven of his last-nine relief appearances.
A versatile reliever, Melton has been called upon in numerous different types of roles this season. The Navy right-hander has thrown two or more innings to close out a ballgame seven times in 2007, but has also been summoned out of the bullpen for an inning or less to get a save on five occasions.
Melton was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American during his collegiate rookie campaign with Wofford College (S.C.) last year. In 2006, he had a hand in 70 percent of the team's wins, as he won seven games and registered seven saves in 29 relief appearances, logging 49.1 innings on the hill.
The Midshipmen (30-16, 10-6 in the Patriot League) will travel to Dover, Del., to take on Delaware State (18-17-2) in a non-league contest today at 3 p.m., before hosting Bucknell (14-22, 6-10 in the Patriot League) in a league four-game set this weekend at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium in Annapolis.