WICHITA, Kan. (oruathletics.com) – Oral Roberts catcher Matt Whatley was selected as one of three finalists for the prestigious 2017 Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com. He becomes the first finalist from ORU since the award's inception in 2000.
Whatley, a three-year starter for the Golden Eagles, has thrown out 43 percent of potential base stealers this season behind a perfect fielding percentage in 507 chances, while starting all 59 games. The Claremore, Oklahoma, product has been just as good offensively, posting a .302 batting average with 11 home runs, 11 doubles and 49 RBI. He also paced ORU with a .446 on-base percentage.
The junior was a three-time All-Summit League selection at ORU and named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list as a sophomore in 2016. Drawing a team-high 50 walks this year, ranking 11th in the nation, he moved into the top 10 in program history with 115.
The annual award is presented to the collegiate catcher whose talent, toughness and integrity most closely resembled the legend after whom the award was named. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series and all finalists will be brought to Wichita with the winner announced at the 20th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 29, 2017.
ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Celebrating its 35th season of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of over 120,000 at nine institutions, including four located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced eight NCAA Champions along with over 80 Academic All-Americans, 75 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit www.thesummitleague.org website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague and watch the weekly "Inside The Summit League" show at www.thesummitleague.org/itsl.