Samford's Jacob Cravey is one of 25 semifinalists for the National Pitcher of the Year, selected by the College Baseball Foundation.
The junior right-hander is 8-2 with a 3.28 earned run average. Cravey, an Andalusia native, leads the Southern Conference and is fourth overall with 105 strikeouts in a conference-high 82.1 innings. Batters are hitting .207 against Cravey. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Cravey has won all six starts in SoCon play.
"I've always said, if you're going to be a conference championship team and a contending team, you have to own Friday," said Samford head coach Tony David. "I've felt that forever in this game. You got to know that your guy is going to give you Friday. When you get Friday every week, you have to get one or the other. He's a calming force for us."
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Cravey has won all six starts in SoCon play. He has 65 strikeouts, 15 walks and 38 hits in six conference games.
"I think he's the best arm in the league," David said. "He's done a better job of being really efficient this year. He's kept his pitch count down to go deeper in games and allow us to keep our pitching for later in the weekend, which has been huge for us."
Cravey will be on the mound on Thursday at 5 p.m. CT when the Bulldogs open up a three-game series at Mercer. The Bulldogs (29-22 overall, 12-6 SoCon) enter the weekend trailing SoCon leading Mercer (32-20 overall, 13-5 SoCon) by a game. Samford's only regular season SoCon title came in 2019.
The teams will meet again on Friday at 5 p.m. CT and Saturday at 1 p.m. CT. Samford starting pitchers in those games are slated to be Brody Westbrooks (3-3, 5.72 ERA) on Friday and Will Lynch (3-4, 6.31 ERA) on Saturday.
Samford is second in the SoCon with 44 home runs and a .600 slugging percentage in conference play. John Anderson has a conference-best 10 home runs in conference play and 19 home runs overall. He is four games short of tying the school record for home runs in a season.
Stephen Klein (.595) and Jayden Davis (.542) lead the conference in on-base percentage. Davis carries a school and conference record 34-game hitting streak into the series.
Mercer carries a four-game winning streak into the game. Treyson Hughes leads the team in batting average (.383) and RBI (49), and the Bears have three players with at least 15 home runs. Jozsef Rohrbacher leads the team with 17 home runs.
Samford needs three wins to take the outright title, but two wins would still give the Bulldogs the top seed in the Southern Conference Tournament, which will take place May 24-28 in Greenville, South Carolina.
*Two other pitchers from universities in Alabama are semifinalists for the pitching award. The other semifinalists from the state are Alabama State's Omar Melendez (11-0, 2.67 ERA, four complete games, 88 strikeouts in 81 innings) and Troy's Grayson Stewart (8-2, 3.27 ERA, 78 strikeouts in 71.2 innings).
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