Helping to propel K-State (37-15, 14-7) to first place in the Big 12 and the team’s first national ranking in four years, K-State catcher Blair DeBord has been named one of 15 players across the nation a Johnny Bench semifinalist. The award, given annually to the nation’s best catcher, is named after Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Lee Bench.
DeBord is the first Wildcat to ever be named a semifinalist for the award, and is one of two Big 12 players to make the cut. The junior from Manhattan High School is hitting .319 on the season with 29 runs, 51 hits, 10 doubles, and 30 RBIs. He has started 48 of the team’s 52 games, including every league contest this year. Additionally, he has only committed three errors in those 48 games with a .991 fielding percentage. He has been charged with nine passed balls (essentially failing to properly field a pitch that results in an advancement by a runner).
DeBord was selected to the semifinalist list by a committee of 20 voters. Three finalists will be announced on June 4th and the winner will be announced June 27th. The finalists and overall winner will be determined by two rounds of voting by current Division I head coaches. The award was first instituted in 2000 and two Big 12 players have received the award over the past 12 years – Kelly Shoppach (Baylor, 2001) and J.T. Wise (Oklahoma, 2009). Bryan Holaday of TCU won the award in 2010, before Texas Christian was a member of the league. K-State will wrap up its regular season with a three game homestand against Oklahoma starting this Friday evening (preview here).