March 10, 2016
By Russell Dorn
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the second time in two years University of Notre Dame standout catcher Ryan Lidge has been named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List, it was announced this week.
The award, which is presented annually to the top Division I catcher in college baseball, is named after Johnny Bench, a 1989 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame after 14 Major League Baseball All-Star appearances and 10 Gold Gloves during his impressive career.
Lidge, who has played in 95 games during his Irish career with 87 starts, has used a strong arm and a solid bat along with developing an outstanding relationship with the Notre Dame pitching unit to become one of the elite catchers in the country.
"Ryan has developed to the point where he understands that he is the most important teammate to the pitcher on the mound," said Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki. "He takes pride in the fact that he's going to do everything he can to help make our pitchers' day better including making the tough block, giving the pitcher a pep talk, etc. He has really matured to the point of understanding how important the pitcher-catcher relationship is. He has a lot of confidence in himself. Playing in the Cape this past summer certainly helped him in addition to the coaching from assistant coach Jesse Woods.
"Ryan has always had an elite arm, but I believe it's gotten better. He is an elite catch-and-throw defensive catcher and is becoming an elite level receiver and blocker of the baseball. From a defensive standpoint we couldn't be more excited to have him back. He has matured at the plate and gotten stronger by taking care of his body in the weight room and by getting better at nutrition. We are looking forward to him having a really good year and continuing the upward trajectory that he has displayed during his first two seasons."
Lidge is one of 74 candidates named to the introductory watch list.
The list will be updated to include other candidates until May 3, 2016 before being narrowed down to the semifinalists May 18, 2016. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 6, 2016. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 19th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 30, 2016.
This year Lidge put together an outstanding two games at Santa Clara to start the year before an injury sidelined him for seven contests. The Barrington, Illinois native returned to the lineup last weekend against Bucknell and is expected to start the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against No. 4 Louisville Friday (3 p.m. ET).
For more information on the Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in history before earning his master's degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.