WICHITA, Kan. - Already recognized as a Preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Purdue baseball's Nick Wittgren was also among the 45 players selected to the NCBWA's Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List.
Now in its eighth year as a part of the NCBWA awards program, the Stopper of the Year honors the nation's top Division I relief pitcher. Back for his junior campaign after recording 12 saves and 55 strikeouts in his first season with Purdue, Wittgren now headlines the program's bullpen after also enjoying a successful summer in the Cape Cod League.
Wittgren led the Big Ten with 12 saves a season ago, finishing one shy of the program's single-season record. He was named to the Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List in April. The right-hander from Lafayette finished a game in 24 of his team-high 29 appearances. With two victories in relief, he played a significant factor in 14 of the program record-tying 37 wins in 2011.
Wittgren was a Second Team All-Big Ten reliever last season, one of six Boilers to receive postseason recognition from the league coaches. All six players are back for the 2012 campaign.
While his most memorable performance of the season came in the Pittsburgh victory at the season-opening Big East/Big Ten Challenge, he was at his best in Big Ten play. He compiled a 1.14 ERA and a .217 batting average against while earning six saves in his 13 appearances on conference weekends.
Over the summer, Wittgren served as the closer of the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the prestigious Cape Code League. He helped Hyannis win the Western Division with a league-best 29-15 record-season record. The All-Cape Cod League honoree was charged with a run in only two of his 19 relief appearances while factoring in 13 victories (10 saves, 3 wins).
Perkins, Plawecki and Wittgren have been projected as potential selections in June's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. All three would have the option of signing with the MLB franchise that drafts them or returning to Purdue for their senior seasons. Barrett Serrato, Tyler Spillner and Stephen Talbott were also All-Big Ten honorees last season.
As one of only two players from the Big Ten Conference to be recognized on the NCBWA Preseason All-American teams, Wittgren was selected as a Third Team relief pitcher. Ohio State's Josh Dezse, a Third Team two-way utility player, also represented the conference.
Purdue opens its 2012 season the weekend of Feb. 17-19 at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area of Florida's Gulf Coast. The Boilermakers will take on Cincinnati, Connecticut and Notre Dame at this year's challenge.