Ashton Payne Selected as Candidate for 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for Softball
March 6, 2009
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - South Carolina senior utility player Ashton Payne was chosen as one of 30 candidates for the 2009 softball division of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
Payne, a 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second-team member last year, currently leads the Gamecocks in batting average, hits, double, triples and slugging percentage. She is one of five Southeastern Conference players to make the candidate listing.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a senior athletically and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, character, community 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 those leaders to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact.
Lowe's, an official corporate partner of the NCAA, expanded the award in 2007 from just men's and women's basketball to include six additional NCAA Division I sports - men's and women's soccer, men's ice hockey, men's lacrosse, baseball and softball. With the addition of football this past fall, the number of sports encompassed by the nation's premier award for seniors increased to nine.
The list of 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. The ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans. The award winner will be announced and recognized at the 2009 NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
"These 30 young women represent the tremendous opportunities offered by collegiate athletics," said Bob Gfeller, Lowe's senior vice president of marketing and advertising. "We at Lowe's are pleased to highlight student-athletes of this caliber and help lead the way in building our nation's future leaders."
This marks the third year for the softball division of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Angela Tincher, a pitcher for Virginia Tech, captured the award in 2008, while Arizona outfielder Caitlin Lowe was the inaugural winner in 2007.
Sportscaster Dick Enberg, Honorary Chairman of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, first conceived the idea of an award for seniors in 2001 in response to the growing trend of men's basketball players leaving school early for the NBA. The award was launched to honor senior student-athletes who remained in college, exhausting their collegiate athletic eligibility, to pursue their college degree.