March 7, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina senior catcher Adam Martin was listed on the initial official watch list for the 2014 Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com and announced by the sponsoring group, the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission.
Martin was among 72 college catchers on the initial watch list and was one of two from the Southern Conference. He was joined on the list by Georgia Southern junior Chase Griffin. It is the second-consecutive season the Catamount back-stop has graced the group's watch list.
With hits in seven of the first 10 games on the year including five multi-hit games, Martin currently leads the Catamounts with a .395 batting average and paces WCU with two home runs among his team-high tying 15 base hits. He enters this weekend riding a three-game hitting streak with a trio of multi-hit games, recording nine hits combined with nine RBI. Martin matched his career-high with four base hits in WCU's home win over No. 15 Clemson.
Martin is a career .294 hitter with 148 career base hits including 29 doubles, three triples and 22 career home runs. Including a dozen RBI this season, the Marietta, Ga., native has driven in 105 career runs. The right-handed slugger was won two summer league home run derbies including the long-ball competition at the Northwoods League All-Star game. Martin was dubbed the top prospect out of the Northwoods League last summer.
The Johnny Bench Award is given annually to the top NCAA Division I collegiate catcher. The watch list will be updated to include other catchers until May 5, 2014. It will then be narrowed down to the semifinalists, whom will be announced May 15, 2014. Ballots will then be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists which will be announced on June 3, 2014.
A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series with all finalists brought to Wichita, Kansas. The winner will be announced at the 17th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 26, 2014.
While Bench is remembered for his offense, he may have had the greatest impact behind the plate. He was the first receiver to use a protective helmet in the field, popularized catching one-handed and kept his throwing hand behind his back to protect it from foul tips.
Bench's career honors include: National League Rookie of the Year (1968); National League Most Valuable Player (1970, 1972); World Series Most Valuable Player (1976); 14-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner. In 1980, he set an endurance record by catching 100+ games for 13 consecutive seasons. Bench was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 1989 with the fourth highest percentage of total votes cast.
Riding a seven-game winning streak, Western Carolina (8-2) opens play in the Georgia Bulldog Invitational on Friday afternoon at Foley Field. The Catamounts square off against Atlantic Sun Conference foe, North Florida (4-6) at 1:00 pm. On Saturday, WCU faces another first-time opponent in the Buffalo Bulls out of the Mid-American Conference on Saturday evening at 5:00 pm before wrapping-up the tournament against the host Bulldogs at 3:00 pm on Sunday afternoon. WCU looks for its third-straight road win over Georgia, which would be the longest consecutive win streak in the series.