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Wednesday April 25, 2012Baseball's Preston Tucker Named A Finalist For The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

Overland Park, Kan.

University of Florida senior infielder/outfielder Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) was one of 10 NCAA baseball student-athletes named as a finalist for the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, it was announced on Wednesday. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

 

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. 

 

Majoring in anthropology, Tucker was selected in the 16th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies with the 498th overall pick but decided to return to Florida for his senior season. This quotation from Tucker summed up his decision: “A lot of guys don’t have the opportunity to say that they got a college degree and I always want to have that to my credit. The bottom line is that I can go off and play pro ball next year and this is an opportunity that I really didn't want to pass up. It's playing baseball, it's the game I've always loved to play so in the end I'll still be doing what I love.”

 

In helping the No. 2 Gators to a 31-10 record, Tucker is hitting .314 and he ranks second on the squad in slugging percentage (.597), total bases (95), RBI (31), doubles (11) and homers (10). In his time wearing the Orange and Blue, he boasts a career batting average of .329 and is the school’s all-time leader in RBI (239) and doubles (64). Tucker currently ranks second in hits (307) and third in round-trippers (51).

Tucker has helped with the Friends of Jaclyn adoption with the rest of his teammates and assisted with the Climb for Cancer, an event in which Gator student-athletes play games and compete with cancer-stricken kids and their siblings in a variety of sports. During the holiday season, Tucker and his teammates served hot meals to members of Gainesville's homeless community.

In 2011, Tucker earned second-team All-America and first-team All-South Region from the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as the Gators finished as the national-runner up with a program-best 53-19 record. Florida shared the SEC regular-season championship with South Carolina and Vanderbilt and captured its first SEC Tourney title since 1991 before winning the Gainesville Regional and Super Regional rounds on the way to Omaha. A first-team All-SEC choice and the Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 NCAA Gainesville Regional, Tucker batted .308 with a team-best 74 RBI, 55 runs, 28 walks and matched the school's single-season record with 23 doubles. He established UF's single-season marks for games played (tied with Mike Zunino) and started by being in the lineup all 72 games, with 63 starts in right field and nine at first base.

 

During the Gators' 11 NCAA Tournament outings, Tucker totaled 20 RBI and had 11 extra-base hits (six doubles and five homers) on his way to a .304 (14-for-46) clip. He is the school's all-time leader in NCAA Tourney at bats (97), hits (35), RBI (35), homers (9) and doubles (8). Tucker was a second-team All-SEC recipient and a member of the league's All-Defensive Team as a sophomore in 2010 as the Gators reached the College World Series for the first time since 2005.

 

In 2009, Tucker became the first player in school history to earn the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Freshman Hitter of the Year Award and he shared the SEC Freshman of the Year honor with LSU pitcher Matty Ott. He was the Most Outstanding Player of the Gainesville Regional, was a unanimous selection to the league’s All-Freshman Team and was chosen as a Freshman All-American by Baseball America, Louisville Slugger, Rivals.com and the NCBWA.

 

The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in February. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to determine the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award website through June 11. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I men’s head coaches’ votes to determine the winner.

 

Lowe’s, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS Award® winner during the 2012 NCAA College World Series®, which will be held June 15-26 in Omaha. For more information on all the finalists, visit seniorCLASSaward.com. Former Gator Brandon McArthur was the award recipient in 2009.

 

2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Baseball Finalists

Todd Hornsby, Pitcher, Jacksonville State

David Lyon, Catcher, Kent State

Thomas McCarthy, Third Base, Kentucky

Austin Nola, Shortstop, LSU

Phil Pohl, Catcher/First Base/Outfield, Clemson

Zach Price, Infield, Army

James Ramsey, Outfield, Florida State

Michael Roth, Pitcher/First Base, South Carolina

Ross Stripling, Pitcher, Texas A&M

Preston Tucker, Infield/Outfield, FLORIDA

 

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