Heath Named a Johnny Bench Award Semifinalist
May 19, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State junior catcher Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) has been named one of 16 semifinalists for the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award delivered by Papa John's Pizza, as announced by the Wichita Sports Commission on Wednesday. The award is presented annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher. The semifinalists were chosen from an original watch list of 80 while three finalists will be announced on June 2.
Heath is batting a team-leading .372 with 18 home runs and 55 RBI, also tops on the squad. His home run total is a new single-season school record, going deep once every 10.4 at-bats. Heath's on-base percentage has continued to rise, now standing at .453. He also has 15 doubles and a triple, good for a .750 slugging percentage and 1.203 OPS.
The Big Ten leads all conferences with three catchers on the semifinal list - Heath, Ohio State's Dan Burkhart and Michigan's Chris Berset. The three finalists will be invited to a July 1 Award Presentation in Wichita, Kansas.
Heath is considered by many as one of the top catchers in the nation, including on Rivals.com, where he was ranked at No. 3, behind only Miami's Yasmani Grandal and LSU's Michah Gibbs.
At or near the top in most every statistical category among the catchers who were on the watch list, Heath is first in home runs, extra-base hits, total bases and slugging percentage, second in OPS and runs scored and fourth in RBI. He is also ranked in the top 10 in hits and doubles. Please note: all stats as of May 3.
The highlight of last weekend came in his first at-bat inside the historic Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, homering off Minnesota ace Seth Rosin to lead off the second inning. His 18th home run of the season broke the 32-year school record held by Dave Simononis in 1978. It marked Heath's second home run off a Big Ten ace as he also went deep against Purdue's Matt Bischoff. Rosin and Bischoff are also considered top prospects for this June's Major League Baseball Entry Draft.
For as good as Heath has been overall, he has been even better in Big Ten games, hitting .413 with an incredible 1.330 OPS (.505 on-base and .825 slugging) in 18 conference tilts.
A top candidate for numerous Big Ten and national honors, Heath also looks to become Penn State's first All-American since Michael Campo in 2000.
With one series remaining, the Nittany Lions could still finish among the top six in the Big Ten standings, which would qualify for the conference tournament. This weekend's series against the Wolverines features games on Thursday (6:35 p.m.), Friday (5:05) and Saturday (1:05). Jordan Steranka figurines will be given away on Thursday, Friday is Kid's Day, Dollar Hot Dog Night and Scoreboard Picture Frame giveaways while Saturday is Fan Appreciation Day. A ton more promotions are scheduled, so come out to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park to cheer on the Lions. Purchase your tickets today!
Season and individual game tickets are now available can be purchased online or over the phone. Please call 1-877-997-7453 or (814) 272-1711, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. for more information. Fans can also direct any additional questions or comments via phone, or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Baseball camp information is now available. Call the Sports Camp Office at (814) 865-0561 or email them at SportCampInfo@outreach.psu.edu for more information.
Follow Penn State baseball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/psubaseball.
Here is the complete release via the Wichita Sports Commission
May 19, 2010 - The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced today the list of sixteen semifinalists for the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award delivered by Papa John's Pizza.
The Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award semifinalists are (in alphabetical order):
Jeff Arnold, University of Louisville;
Statistics will now be compiled on each of the semifinalists and sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 2, 2010 prior to the NCAA Regionals and Major League Baseball Draft.
A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 13th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on July 1, 2010.
Bench's career honors include: National League Rookie of the Year (1968); National League Most Valuable Player (1970, 1972); World Series Most Valuable Player (1976); 14-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner. In 1980, he set an endurance record by catching 100+ games for 13 consecutive seasons. Bench was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 1989 with the fourth highest percentage of total votes cast.
A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF HEATH'S HOME RUNS THIS SEASON
#18 at Minnesota (5/14)
#13 & 14 at Ohio State (4/24)
#9 at Illinois (4/3)
#8 at Illinois (4/2)
#7 at Pittsburgh (3/24)
#4 vs. McNeese State (3/5)