June 7, 2002

The end-of-the-year awards continue to roll in for the Notre Dame baseball program, as it prepares for its NCAA Super-Regional showdown this weekend at Florida State. The week began with four Irish players selected in the Major League Draft, followed by two – senior third baseman Andrew Bushey (Boardman, Ohio) and junior leftfielder Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) – who were named to the Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-America team. In the process, Notre Dame became the only Division I baseball program to produce multiple Academic All-Americans in each of the past three seasons.

Freshman righthander Grant Johnson (Burr Ridge, Ill.) and sophomore second baseman Steve Sollmann (Cincinnati, Ohio) also were recognized by Collegiate Baseball magazine as national “players of the week,” in recognition of their dominant performances at last week’s NCAA South Bend Regional. Johnson went on to be named a Freshman All-American by the magazine, in addition to being invited to the USA National Team tryouts, to be held in late June.

Senior centerfielder Steve Stanley – already named a first team All-American by Collegiate Baseball – received the same honor on Thursday from USA Today Baseball Weekly, which also named Stanford’s Sam Fuld and Ryan Kenning of New Mexico State as its three first team All-America outfielders (Stanley is the only outfielder named a first teamer by both CB and USA Today).

Here’s an update of each of the award winners:

Stavisky – a third team Academic All-American in 2001 – registered his fourth Dean’s List GPA (3.47) in six semesters at Notre Dame, with the junior leftfielder owning a 3.50 cumulative GPA as a business management major. The three-time all-BIG EAST performer becomes the Notre Dame baseball program’s fifth repeat Academic All-American and joins former outfielder Dan Peltier as the only Irish players to earn multiple Academic All-America honors prior to their senior season.

Despite missing 18 games in the first half of the 2002 season due to a shoulder injury and facial fracture, Stavisky currently leads the Irish in slugging percentage (.662), triples (5) and RBI per game (1.11, 49 total), while also owning team-best situational numbers for two-out batting (.433) and advancing baserunners (63.9%). The 6-3, 220-pound lefthander – who has been named to NCAA All-Regional teams each of the past two seasons – also ranks second on the team in batting avg. (.404), RBI (49), on-base pct. (.467), hits (67), home runs (7), sacrifice flies (6) and batting with runners in scoring position (.455).

Stavisky has scored 40 runs in 44 games played (all starts), with his other season stats including seven more walks (23) than strikeouts (16), 13 doubles and just one error. He finished the BIG EAST regular season ranked fourth among the league’s players for batting avg. in conference games (.394), plus fifth in conference slugging (.648) and seventh in on-base (.465) – while also entering the FSU series with the BIG EAST’s second-best overall batting average (.404), plus third in slugging (.669) and triples (5). He is tied for third in the ND record book for career triples (14) and is eighth in Irish history for career home runs (31), with a .356 career batting avg. and 47 doubles in 166 games played.

Bushey graduated with a 3.43 cumulative grade-point average as a finance major, after posting his third Dean’s List semester with a 3.75 GPA in the 2002 spring semester. The senior third baseman and team co-captain ranks among Notre Dame’s leaders in several major categories while earning all-BIG EAST Conference honors each of the past two seasons.

Notre Dame’s team leader in RBI (57), doubles (19, 6th among BIG EAST players) and runners advanced (41), Bushey also ranks second on the team in hits (67), third in sacrifice bunts (10) and fourth in batting average (.333). His 12 doubles during the BIG EAST regular season ranked fourth among the conference’s players. Bushey’s other season stats include 42 runs in 57 games played (all starts), plus six home runs, 21 walks vs. just 19 strikeouts, and only 10 errors. His 211 career games started rank 10th in ND history and his 54 doubles are 6th in the ND record book.

Notre Dame is the only Division I baseball program to produce multiple Academic All-American in each of the past three years, with infielder Jeff Perconte and lefthander Mike Naumann earning the honor in 2000 while Naumann and Stavisky were 2001 honorees. The Irish were one of five 2002 teams with two Academic All-Americans, with the others including two other teams (Stanford and Nebraska) that are preparing for Super-Regional play, plus Alabama and Air Force. Notre Dame and Nebraska are the only teams to produce multiple Academic All-Americans in both 2000 and 2001.

Notre Dame baseball players have combined for 19 Academic All-America awards (since 1977), including five repeat honorees in outfielders John Loughran (’86, ’87), Peltier (’88, ’89) and Stavisky (’01, ’02), first baseman Joe Binkiewicz (’91-’92) and Naumann (’00-’01).

Johnson – who tossed a one-hit, one-walk masterpiece in last week’s 25-1 win over South Alabama, to complement Sollmann’s 6-for-7, 7-RBI day – was listed fifth among 20 pitchers who were named to Collegiate Baseball’s Freshman All-America team. The Irish program now has produced a Freshman All-American every season since 1997, including three current players: senior catcher Paul O’Toole, Stavisky and Sollmann.

Johnson will attend the Team USA tryouts on June 18-23 in Tucson, Ariz. After finalizing its roster, the national team will play a series of games vs. Japan and various pro teams on the east coast, followed by a tournament in the Netherlands and the August 3-11 World Championships in Messina, Italy. If Johnson makes Team USA, he will be the third Notre Dame player to compete with the elite national-team squad in the last five years (also infielder Brant Ust in 1998 and righthander Aaron Heilman in 1999).

After his stellar outing at last week’s NCAA South Bend Regional, Johnson ranks fifth among BIG EAST pitchers for ERA (3.11) and victories (8-4), including wins in each of his last six decisions. Johnson’s 82 strikeouts have bested the ND record for Ks by a freshman (78, by All-American Aaron Heilman in 1998) while his opponent batting average has dropped to .240, with just 36 walks, five hit batters and five wild pitches in 16 appearances (12 starts) and 89.2 innings pitched.

Sollmann – whose lateseason surge has pushed his batting average to .356 – hit .813 in the NCAA South Bend Regional (13-for-16), with eight RBI, 10 runs scored, a home run and a pair of back-to-back triples. He also walked once and was hit by a pitch, with no strikeouts and error-free play on 15 fielding chances (while helping turn four double plays). His huge game versus South Alabama (6-for-7, 7 RBI, 6 R, HR, 2 3B, 13 TB) set an NCAA Tournament record for runs and tied the tournament marks for hits and triples (also tying ND records for hits, runs and RBI).

Named MVP of the Regional, Sollmann was one of six Notre Dame players named to the All-Regional team, including the entire starting outfield of junior RF Kris Billmaier (named to DH spot; 7-for-12, 2 RBI, 3 R, 3B, 2 2B), Stanley (7-for-14, 4 RBI, 5 R, 2B, 2 BB) and Stavisky (7-for-15, 7 RBI, 4 R, 2B). Senior catcher Paul O’Toole (5-for-11, 4 RBI, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 BB) and Johnson also were named to the all-Regional squad.

Stanley – who earlier in the week became the fourth-highest drafted player in Notre Dame baseball history (as the 67th overall pick, by the Oakland A’s) – joins outfielders Peltier and Eric Danapilis and righthander Aaron Heilman as the only Notre Dame baseball players ever named a first team All-American by two of the major awarding organizations (Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association have yet to name their All-America squads). Stanley joined Heilman (17th pick in 2001 first round, by the New York Mets) as the highest-drafted seniors in Notre Dame history while catcher Ken Plesha (16th overall pick in 1965, by the Chicago White Sox) is the only ND position player ever drafted higher than Stanley’s second-round spot.

Stanley’s stellar season includes BIG EAST-leading numbers for batting average (.445), on-base percentage (.517), runs scored (72) and hits (109), also ranking second among the conference’s players in stolen bases (31), third in walks (37) and fifth in total bases (134). The only repeat BIG EAST player of the year in the league’s history, Stanley also posted BIG EAST-best numbers for conference batting avg. (.431), runs (30) and hits (44) in BIG EAST regular-season games, also ranking third in league on-base pct. (.508), fourth in stolen bases (11), sixth in total bases (57) and eighth in doubles (8).

His other 2002 numbers include just 10 strikeouts in 294 plate appearances, one error in 139 fielding chances, one home run, three triples, 16 doubles and eight sacrifice bunts. Stanley has started every game of his ND career (250, second-best in NCAA Division I history) while ranking fourth in NCAA history with 375 career hits. He also holds Irish records for career runs scored (251) and stolen bases (101), while ranking third in the ND record book for career batting average (.384) and total bases (449), seventh in walks (125) and second in sac. bunts (30). Stanley’s .445 season batting average is just shy of the ND record (.447) set by Edwin Hartwell in 1993 while his 109 hits are six back of Dan Peltier’s ND record (115, in 1989).