Kondla Named Finalist for Josh Willingham Award

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Coker College baseball player Fico Kondla has been named a finalist for the inaugural Josh Willingham Award. The award honors the most valuable player in Division II college baseball. Kondla was named a semifinalist prior to the NCAA regional tournament.

"To be named a finalist is truly amazing," Kondla said. "I'm so excited just to be recognized in the same group as these great players. I couldn't do this without my coaches and teammates supporting me."

Kondla, a junior first baseman, has been a steady force for the Cobras this season. As of Tuesday, he is hitting .423 with three homers, a team-high 47 RBIs, 41 runs scored and a team-high 23 stolen bases. He led Conference Carolinas in average and was third in steals.

Kondla has been an integral part in the Cobras' run to the NCAA Division II World Series. In the Southeast regional he hit .562 with five RBIs and four runs scored. His biggest moment of the tournament came in the Cobras' second game, against USC Aiken, where he had his name in both Coker runs. He knocked in the game's first run with an RBI single before scoring the game-winning run after leading off the bottom of the 10th inning with a double. Kondla was named to the all-tournament team for his efforts.

In the Conference Carolinas tournament he had a walk-off single to cap a come-from-behind victory over Pfeiffer College in the opening round. For the tournament he hit .384 with six RBIs, five runs and two steals en route to being named to the all-tournament team. Coker defeated King College to win the Conference Carolinas tournament and earn its first-ever berth into an NCAA tournament.

Along with the finalist nomination, Kondla has earned several accolades throughout the season. He was recently named a National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association second team all-region selection, and was named first team all-conference and was the conference's player of the week three times.

Originally from Miami, Fla., Kondla is a physical education and sport studies major with a concentration in exercise science at Coker. He is the son of Richard and Emelina Kondla.

Kondla is one of 11 finalists from around the country, six of which are playing in the World Series beginning this weekend in Cary, N.C. The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the tournament, which is held May 25-June 1.

To view the entire list of finalists, visit http://www.willinghamaward.com/

About the Josh Willingham Award

The inaugural Josh Willingham Award, presented by College Baseball Lineup and D2BaseballNews.com, honors DII college baseball's "most valuable player" – an individual who not only excels on the field, but in the dugout, clubhouse and practice field as well, and leads his team to national championship-caliber status. The 28 players selected are on teams participating in the double-elimination regional championship tournaments which will determine the eight teams who will advance to Cary, N.C. to compete for the DII national title.

The award is named after former University of North Alabama Lion star Josh Willingham. While playing baseball at UNA Willingham was a two-time All-American and tied or broke 14 school single-game, season and career records. After his junior season Willingham was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 17th round of the Major League Baseball draft, and he is currently in the midst of his 10th season at the highest professional level.

The determination of the final candidates and initial voting for the award has been made by a select panel of baseball sports information contacts, media members and former players.

For more information, contact Chris Dougherty, manager of athletics media relations and marketing, at 843-383-8018 or cdougherty@coker.edu.

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Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the "Best Colleges" in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

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