May 18, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - University of New Mexico third baseman DJ Peterson is having a fantastic season and people across the country are taking notice. On Friday the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named him a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, which is given annually to the top player in college baseball.
Peterson is one of 35 players named a semifinalist and is the only player from the Mountain West. He is also on the Golden Spikes Award watch list, which is awarded annually by USA Baseball to the country's top amateur player.
The honors are justly deserved. Peterson has ranked near the top of NCAA listings in numerous offensive categories all year. Coming into the week he led the nation in total bases (153), was second in slugging percentage (.736), and was third in both hits (87) and RBIs (64) while his batting average (.418) ranked seventh. Entering Friday's action he lead the Mountain West in six categories: batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, RBIs, home runs, and total bases.
Earlier this season he also enjoyed a career-best 22-game hitting streak while helping the Lobos win a school-record eight consecutive weekend series.
"DJ is a first-class kid," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. "He has grown and matured as a baseball player and as a person. He is another in a line of great Lobo hitters and will be playing on TV someday."
Peterson has helped carry UNM to another stellar season. Coming off back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, the Lobos are poised to clinch at least a share of the Mountain West regular-season championship on Saturday. Their 9-1 victory over Air Force on Friday, coupled with TCU's 3-0 loss to San Diego State, means that if the Lobos defeat Air Force again on Saturday they will clinch at least a share of the regular-season crown in addition to the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament next week.
The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball's most prestigious award. Criteria for consideration of the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage.
The award will be presented on Friday, June 15 at 11 a.m. CT, the opening day of the 2012 CWS, at TD Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha, Neb.