KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tennessee senior pitcher Megan Rhodes has been selected as one of 30 NCAA Division I candidates for the 2008 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Softball Award. The trophy will be presented to a D-I softball individual that excels on as well as off the field of play.
A native of Nashville, Tenn., Rhodes has christened her senior campaign with a perfect 8-0 record, a 1.21 ERA, two solo shutouts, two two-hitters, a one-hit blanking and 72 strikeouts in 58 innings of work in the circle. The 5-7 right hander currently rates first in the Southeastern Conference in saves with three, fourth in K’s, fifth in victories and sixth in innings pitched. For her career, Rhodes now possesses a 52-11 overall record with a career 1.47 ERA and is closing in on second in program history in strikeouts with 565. Former Lady Vol and current volunteer assistant coach Stephanie (Humphrey) Sayne currently holds down the No. 2 position in school annals with 596 K’s. Rhodes’ career strikeout-per-seven inning ratio of 9.53 is good enough for a top 25 placing in NCAA Division I history.
Lowe’s presented the inaugural softball award at the conclusion of the 2007 season with Arizona’s Caitlin Lowe receiving the honor. Candidates for the 2008 award were selected based on personal qualities that define a complete student athlete through extensive nominations submitted by their sports information contacts. While the on-the-field performance during their collegiate softball careers is a factor in determining candidates and the eventual winner, personal character and off-the-field achievements in the classroom and community are major areas of focus. CLASS is an acronym representing “Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.” The award, presented to NCAA Division I student-athletes each year in eight sports, focuses on the “Four C’s” of classroom, character, community and competition.
The rundown of 30 candidates for the 2008 Senior CLASS award represents 29 different schools from around the country. The lineup includes 18 separate conferences with three nominees from the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big XII Conference and the Pacific-10. The Southeastern Conference boasts two selections in Rhodes and Alabama’s Jordan Praytor.
A national media committee will select 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in late March. Those ten names will then be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote. Fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the award. The winner will be announced during the 2008 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The award was launched during the 2001-02 season in response to the trend of college basketball players leaving college early to turn professional. Lowe’s extended the award in 2007 to include four other NCAA sports: baseball, softball, men’s hockey and men’s lacrosse. It was conceived by sportscaster Dick Enberg, who continues to serve as Honorary Chairman. The Senior CLASS honor 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.