DALLAS – With the 2023 season just over 24 hours away, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association announced that Tennessee baseball’s Kirby Connell and Camden Sewell were named to its preseason Stopper of the Year Award Watch List Thursday afternoon.
The award is given annually to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball by the NCBWA. A season ago, Redmond Walsh, now a quality control volunteer with the program, was named a finalist for the award after leading the team in saves with seven.
Connell was masterful a season ago for the Big Orange, returning the lowest ERA of any pitcher from last year’s squad at 1.66. In 30 relief appearances, the southpaw went 38 innings, racking up a 4-0 record and a WHIP of .87. He held opposing hitters to just a .199 batting average and punched out 36 in 2022.
Sewell was equally as effective, and showed incredible versatility in 2022. The senior pitched in 26 games and made one start, coming in the SEC Tournament Championship game against Florida. The sidewinder tossed 50 total innings for the Vols, earning a 7-1 record, plus a save at Florida where he allowed just one baserunner of 4.1 innings of work.
Both standout relievers have been fantastic since the moment they stepped on campus, with neither owning a career ERA over 2.65. Their stellar work last year played a large role in Tennessee’s pitching staff leading the country in team ERA at 2.51.
Connell, Sewell and the Volunteers look to start the season strong as they open the year at the MLB Desert Invitational in Arizona. The Vols will play Arizona in their season opener, Friday night, at 8 p.m. ET at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
The full NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award Watch List can be found by clicking HERE.