June 7, 2015
Brooks Named Winner of Baseball's Tomko and Willingham Awards
SALISBURY, N.C. -- Catawba senior Craig Brooks (Monroe, N.C./Parkwood HS) has added two more post-season awards to his name. He has won the Brett Tomko Award presented by D2 Baseball News, which is bestowed to a college baseball pitcher whose on the field performance is deemed the most outstanding at the Division II level. Brooks also won the Josh Willingham Award, which is given to the Most Valuable Player in DII baseball who leads his team both on and off the field.
Brooks was a finalist for the Tomko Award in 2014, the initial year of the award. His pitching performance was a huge reason the Catawba Indians were able to advance to the DII Baseball Championships. While in Cary, the Indians advanced to the title game and ultimately finished the season as the second ranked team - their highest finish in school history.
For the season Brooks posted a 1.45 ERA with a 9-1 record. In 99 innings, he only allowed 54 hits and 34 walks for a .89 WHIP which placed him eighth nationally. His 158 strikeouts led the division and his 14.36 strikeouts per nine innings also topped the nation.
Brooks dominated opposition the entire season. Early in the year he threw a no-hitter against Brevard. In this final pitching performance for the Indians he struck out five of six batters against Cal Poly Pomona to earn the save which sent the Indians to the championship game.
Steve Naemark of Angelo State finished second in the voting and UC San Diego's Justin Donatella finished third. Dan Altavilla, of Mercyhurst, won the inaugural award last season.
In 1995, Tomko had a spectacular season pitching for the Florida Southern College Moccasins which was full of both incredible individual and team success. Tomko compiled an incredible 15-2 record with a 1.35 ERA and amassed 154 strikeouts in just 126.3 innings. He also threw seven complete games, three of which were shutouts, and also added a pair of saves.
Tomko led the Mocs to the Division II Championship and threw a complete-game shutout to give FSC its eighth national title. He was named the outstanding player of the Division II Championship and was the Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year. Tomko earned the distinct recognition of being the first athlete ever to be awarded both the NCAA Division II Player and Pitcher of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Following Tomko’s historic season in Lakeland, the Cincinnati Reds drafted him in the second round of the Major League Amateur Draft. He made his big league debut with the Reds two years later and went on to win one hundred MLB games in 14 seasons. Five times Tomko reached the double-digit win plateau while pitching in the big leagues and he was also able to accrue over 190 innings on the mound five times as well.
The Willingham Award is an annual honor presented to DII college baseball's most valuable player. The award is to bestowed upon a player who not only excels on the field, but in the dugout, clubhouse and practice field as well, and leads his team to national championship caliber status. The award was created to honor players who help propel their teams to an elite level.
The award is named after Willingham, the former University of North Alabama Lion star. While playing baseball at UNA Willingham was a two-time All American and tied or broke 14 school single-game, season and career records. After his junior season he was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 17th round of the Major League Baseball Draft and he is currently in the midst of his 10th season at the highest professional level.
The determination of candidates and initial voting for the award is made by a panel of baseball sports information contacts and media members. Once the finalists are selected, the panel votes again to determine the winner.
Brooks was a brilliant performer both on the mound and at third base for Catawba. In addition to his pitching accolades, he batted .300 with 15 doubles and six home runs. Tanner Rainey of West Alabama finished second in voting for the award and Seton Hill's Nick Sell was third.
Other honors won by Brooks included the 2015 ABCA/Rawlings Gold Bat Award winner as the National Player of the Year and the ABCA/Rawlings Pitcher of the Year. He was a member of the 2015 National Finals All-Tournament Team.
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