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Brannon Easterling Wins 2013 Willingham Award
Brannon Easterling, a junior pitcher for the St. Edward’s Hilltoppers, was 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.