Dec. 11, 2007
Notre Dame junior righthanded pitcher David Phelps (Hazelwood, Mo.) – one of two Irish pitchers ever to post 100-plus strikeouts and an ERA under 2.00 during the same season – has been named to the 2008 preseason watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award, a national player-of-the-year award that is selected by a panel of sports information directors, beat writers and college baseball coaches.
Phelps earned first team all-BIG EAST Conference honors in 2007, joining former All-Americans Aaron Heilman (in ’99) and Chris Niesel (in ’03) as the youngest Notre Dame pitchers ever named to the BIG EAST’s top team (each earned the honor as sophomores). Heilman is the only other Notre Dame pitcher ever to reach 100 Ks while also having a sub-2.00 ERA in the same season (111 Ks, 1/74 ERA; as a senior in 2001).
The final month of the 2007 season saw Phelps locked in a two-way battle for BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-year honors, with current Louisville senior Zack Pitts ultimately taking home that award. Phelps finished the 2007 season as the league leader in overall ERA (1.87; good for 14th in the nation) and strikeouts (102; sixth in ND history) while ranking third among BIG EAST pitchers with 110.1 innings pitched, seventh in low oppopnent batting average (.236) and eighth in wins (8-5). He was one of only six pitchers in the nation who entered the 2007 postseason with an ERA under 2.00, eight or more wins and 90-plus strikeouts.
In 2007 regular-season BIG EAST games, Phelps finished second in ERA (2.14, trailing only Seton Hall’s Keith Cantwell) plus first in strikeouts (67) and innings (71.1), second in Ks looking (26) and pickoffs (4), third in wins (5-3) and 10th in low opp. batting (.242).
Phelps – who pitched well enough to win at least 14 of his 16 starts in 2007 – posted the 11th-best season ERA in the Notre Dame record book and eighth-best of the aluminum-bat era (since the early 1980s). He led the 2007 Irish staff in ERA, wins, strikeouts, innings, starts (15; sixth in the BIG EAST), Ks looking (42) and groundouts (119), also ranking third in low opp. batting avg. He had 15 more innings pitched than hits allowed (96) and finished with the staff’s second-best K-to-walk ratio (3.4; 102/30) – while his nine-inning averages included a team-best 7.1 innings per start, 8.3 Ks (2nd on the team) and 2.5 walks (3rd-lowest on the staff), plus 7.8 hits per 9 IP.
The fifth different Notre Dame pitcher ever to reach 100 strikeouts in a season, Phelps reached double-digit strikeouts three times during the 2007 regular season and then had a 9-K game in the BIG EAST Tournament versus Villanova. He totaled five complete games in the 2007 season and is is one of only three Notre Dame pitchers to post four or more nine-inning complete games in a season (4; Heilman had 5 and Danny Tamayo 4, both in 2001).
Phelps allowed 0-2 earned runs in 13 of his 16 starts during the 2007 season and unearned runs led to Irish losses in three games started by him (vs. Texas State, Pitt and Villanova). Twelve of the runs charged to Phelps in 2007 were unearned and the Irish offense averaged only 5.4 runs/gm in his 16 starts.
The only Notre Dame pitchers to total more strikeouts in a season than Phelps are Heilman (118 in ’99 and ’00; 111 in ’01), Jeff Manship (111 in ’06) and Tamayo (106 in ’01). He held 2007 opposing batters to .212 batting with runners on base (2nd-best on the staff) and was third on the staff in opp. batting by lefthanded hitters (.243), RH hitters (.232) and in opp. leadoff on-base pct. (.336; 3 per 9 IP).
Phelps also earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in 2007 and advanced to the Academic All-America ballot, after carrying a 3.36 cumulative grade-point average into the 2007 season (as a double major in political science and computer applications).
Nine other BIG EAST players are on the 2008 Wallace Award Watch List: Cincinnati senior CF Tony Campana; three Louisville players (junior 3B Chris Dominguez, senior RHP Marks and sophomore LHP Justin Marks); UConn fifth-year infielder Matt Karl; St. John’s sophomore LF Brian Kemp and junior RHP Colin Lynch; West Virginia senior SS Tyler Kuhn; and South Florida sophomore closer Shawn Sanford.
Seven other players from teams on Notre Dame’s 2008 schedule are on the Wallace Watch List: IPFW senior outfielder Jared Davis; Arizona junior OF Jon Gaston and junior pitcher Preston Guilmet; Western Michigan senior pitcher Ethan Hollingswort; Michigan junior P/OF/1B Zach Putnam and senior 1B/OF Derek VanBuskirk; and Central Michigan senior catcher Tyler Stovall.
For the complete 2008 Wallace Award Watch List, see the following link:
The Brooks Wallace Award is dedicated to the memory of the former Texas Tech shortstop and assistant coach. Wallace was a slick-fielding shortstop at Texas Tech from 1977-80. A four-year starter, he was named all-Southwest Conference and ABCA all-district as a senior when he led the Red Raiders to their first appearance in the Southwest Conference Tournament.
After playing two years in the Texas Rangers organization, Wallace returned to Texas Tech and served as a graduate assistant and later as an assistant coach. In the summer of 1984 he was diagnosed with cancer and fought the disease courageously until his death on March 24, 1985, at age 27. The Plano, Texas, native was married to the former Sandy Arnold and they had one daughter, Lindsay Ryan.
Wallace’s number 22 is retired at Texas Tech and his memory lives on with those who knew and loved him.