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HISTORY OF THE JOSH WILLINGHAM AWARD

The Josh Willingham Award was created in 2013 to honor DII college baseball's most valuable player. The award was deveoped to honor players who help propel their teams to an elite level.

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 first Willingham Award was won by Brannon Easterling, a junior pitcher for the St. Edward’s Hilltoppers. Easterling was the ace of the SEU staff that made its first ever trip to the DII Baseball Championships. He tied for the national lead in victories and finished the season 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.

The second Willingham Award was given to Colorado Mesa outfielder Austin Kaiser. Kaiser finished the season with a .478 batting average, 111 hits, and 178 total bases. All led NCAA Division II. He also had a .767 slugging percentage and 71 runs scored, both good enough for fourth in the country. He stole 30 bases and struck out just 18 times in 232 at-bats.

The 2015 edition of the award was won by Craig Brooks of Catawba. Brooks' performance on the diamond was integral reason the Catawba Indians advanced to the 2015 DII Baseball Championships and had their highest finish in school history as they conlcuded the season as the second ranked team. Brooks was a brillant performer both on the mound and at third base. Brooks posted a 1.45 ERA with a 9-1 record on the mound and his 158 strikeouts led the division.When he wasn't pitching he played third base for the Indians and batted .300 with 15 doubles and six home runs.