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Brannon Easterling, a junior pitcher for the St. Edward’s Hilltoppers, has been named the inaugural Josh Willingham Award winner. The honor goes to DII college baseball’s most valuable player.

Easterling was the ace of the St. Edward’s pitching staff which made its first ever trip to the DII Baseball Championships. The 6’5” righty from College Station, Texas tied for the national lead in victories and finished a historic Hilltopper campaign with a 2.10 ERA. He led the nation with an incredible 14 complete games, four of which were shutouts, and also topped the nation in innings pitched with 132.2. In his final game of the season he shutout Grand Canyon in the opening round of the DII Baseball Championships as he pitched SEU to a 1-0 win.

After the season Easterling was named to the second team on the American Baseball Coaches Association All-America Team was a third-team selection on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-America Team.

St. Edward’s Head Coach Rob Penders praised Easterling and stated he was an invaluable part of the Hilltopper team, “Brannon comes to the field everyday ready to compete. Whether he is scheduled to pitch that day or not, he always wants his teammates to win. After the regional this year, when he threw 17 innings over four days his first instinct was to praise his teammates and the effort they gave… In my 16 years of coaching college baseball, I am positive that I have never seen a greater competitor than Brannon. I've had more talented players that could win you a game at any point during the season, but if I had to choose between them or Brannon in a crucial situation I would choose Brannon hands down. He could win at checkers, chess or the OK Corral. He is a winner, and I'll take him on my team any day.“

Easterling edged Adam Pendleton, the catcher for the national champion Tampa Spartans, who finished a close second for the award. Fico Kondla of Coker was also not far behind at third and Franklin Pierce’s ace pitcher Trevor Graham finished fourth. Shippensburg’s Pat Kregeloh completed the top five.

The Josh Willingham Award is annual honor to be presented to DII college baseball's most valuable player. The award is to bestowed upon a player who not only excels on the field, but in the dugout, clubhouse and practice field as well, and leads his team to national championship caliber status. Because the award honors players who help propel their teams to an elite level, only players from teams who advance to the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship are eligible.

The award is named after the former University of North Alabama Lion star, Josh Willingham. While playing baseball at UNA Willingham was a two-time All American and tied or broke 14 school single-game, season and career records. After his junior season he was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 17th round of the Major Leauge Baseball Draft and he is currently in the midst of his 10th season at the highest professional level.

The determination of candidates and initial voting for the award was made by a panel of baseball sports information contacts and media members. Once the finalists are selected, the panel voted again to determine he untimate winner. An online fan Internet vote also contributed to final positioning.

Borgschulte, Matt Sr. OF Drury
Easterling, Brannon Jr. RHP St. Edward's
Graham, Trevor Jr. RHP Franklin Pierce
Harris, David Sr. SS Southern Arkansas
Jay, Peter Sr. RHP New Haven
Kondla, Fico Jr. 1B Coker
Kregeloh, Pat Jr. UTL Shippensburg
Pendleton, Adam Sr. C Tampa
Peterson, Jordan So. RHP St. Joseph's
Taska, Taylor Jr. UTL Texas A&M Kingsville
Zambron, Brad Sr. LHP Grand Valley State