April 18, 2007

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Thirty NCAA Division I college baseball players who excel both on and off the field were announced today as candidates for the 2007 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in the all-new baseball division.  Beginning this year, the award will be presented annually to college baseball’s outstanding senior student athlete.

Lowe’s recently announced the addition of baseball and three other NCAA sports to the award program that originally launched in 2001-02 with basketball.  An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award is designed to honor the attributes of college senior student athletes who stay in school and pursue the many rewards that a senior season can bring.

Candidates are selected based on personal qualities that define a complete student athlete.  While the on-the-field performance during their collegiate baseball careers is a factor in determining candidates and the eventual winner, their personal character and off-the-field achievements in the classroom and community are major areas of focus.

The list of 30 baseball nominees spans the country in a big way, representing 29 different schools and 19 different conferences.  The only school with more than one candidate is Florida State, currently ranked third in the nation, which landed senior pitchers Bryan Henry and Michael Hyde. 

“We are excited to add college baseball to the growing list of NCAA sports of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award,” said Bob Gfeller, Lowe’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advertising. “With the landscape of baseball over the years, these collegiate seniors deserve to be honored for staying in school, being a leader on their team, working towards their degree and making an impact in their local community. These 30 baseball candidates are tremendous collegiate student athletes in every sense of the word.”

The thirty candidates are Austin Adams of Texas Christian, Ryan Bird of Saint Louis, Joey Boaen of Pennsylvania, Brandon Bowser of New Orleans, John Brandt of Wofford, Jay Brossman of Utah, Wes Brundridge of Charleston Southern, Chris Cates of Louisville, Eric Cattoni of Saint Mary’s, Jim Chapman of Vermont, Andy DeLaGarza of Coastal Carolina, Nick Derba of Manhattan, Chris Dunn of Florida International, Ryan Gryskevicz of Bucknell, Bryan Henry of Florida State, Jacob Howell of Ohio State, Michael Hyde of Florida State, Aaron Ivey of Oklahoma, Matt LaPorta of Florida, Adam McDaniel of Georgia, Steven Mignogna of Radford, Brad Mills of Arizona, Eric Rose of Michigan, Emeel Salem of Alabama, Scott Simon of Northern Illinois, Keanon Simon of Oklahoma State, Daniel Stovall of New Mexico, Josh Thompson of Mercer, Ryan Turner of Georgia Tech, Kasey Wahl of Evansville.

A national media committee will select 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in May. Those ten names will then be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote beginning May 9 and concluding June 6.  Fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the award.  The award winner and the college baseball All-Senior All-America Team will be announced this June during the 2007 NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

The tribute for seniors was conceived by sportscaster Dick Enberg, who continues to serve as Honorary Chairman of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.  It was inspired by the remarkable story of former Duke star Shane Battier, who could have been an NBA lottery pick but returned to college for his senior season, led the Blue Devils to the national championship in 2001 and earned his college degree.

“This award stands for everything that’s right about college athletics and the student athletes that play the game,” Enberg said.