University of Evansville senior closer Tom Heithoff (Carroll, Iowa/Kuemper Catholic/NIACC) has been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's Stopper of the Year midseason watch list, an award which honors the nation's top relief pitcher. Heithoff and the Purple Aces will return to the diamond beginning on Friday night at 6:00 p.m., as UE will return to Missouri Valley Conference play for the first time since April 4 by hosting the Bradley University Braves in a three-game series at UE's Charles H. Braun Stadium this weekend.
Heithoff was one of 45 relief pitchers across the country to be named to the midseason Stopper of the Year watch list, after racking up a Missouri Valley Conference-best eight saves for the Purple Aces. Heithoff's eight saves entered the week ranked ninth nationally at the Division I level, and he found himself just four saves behind national saves leader Kevin Arico of nationally-ranked Virginia, who has 12 saves this spring. Heithoff has gone 3-3 with a 3.54 ERA and eight saves in 15 appearances this spring for UE, including 14 relief outings. In 28.0 innings of work, he has struck out 25 men against just eight walks. Heithoff has done so while routinely going directly from first base to the mound, as he has also hit .265 with two home runs and 20 RBI as UE's starting first baseman.
"Tom has been a big part of our success not only this year, but also last year as well," said UE head coach Wes Carroll. "He has been a rock at the back-end of our bullpen the last two years, racking up eight saves in each of the last two years, while also being a key part of our field lineup as our starting first baseman. We would not have the success we have had the last two years without Tom's efforts, and he is very deserving of being named to the Stopper of the Year midseason watch list."
Heithoff has helped Evansville build a 21-16 overall record this spring, as UE will enter this weekend's series with Bradley having won six games in a row, eight out of the last nine, and 18 of its last 25 games overall. UE posted its sixth-straight victory on Tuesday night with an 8-2 victory over nationally-ranked Division II power Southern Indiana in the annual "Battle At The Braun" crosstown series in Evansville. During its current six-game winning streak, UE has averaged 10.5 runs per game while out-hitting the opposition .370 to .278 as a team. The six-game winning streak is the longest at UE since the 2007 Purple Aces won seven-straight games in the month of March.