Matthes Finalist For Howser Trophy

Alabama right fielder Kent Matthes was named one of 16 semifinalists for the 2009 Dick Howser Trophy, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association has announced.

A two-time National and SEC Player of the Week, Matthes is the NCAA leader with 26 home runs, just one home run shy of the Alabama single-season record held by Doug Duke (27) in 1986. The senior is hitting .378 with 77 RBI in 48 games this season. He also ranks among the national leaders in home runs per game, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage and RBI per game.

He has 10 game-winning RBI, including two last weekend against No. 11 Arkansas and 13 of his 26 home runs have either tied the game or given the Crimson Tide the lead.

He has four multi-home run games against SE Missouri (Feb. 22), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (March 7), Mississippi (March 22) and Troy (April 7) and two-game winning home runs, including walk-off home run to beat Nicholls State on Feb. 25.

A four-year starter in right field, Matthes has compiled a .314 (206-for-656) average with 45 home runs and 179 RBI in 191 games at UA. He also shares the Alabama all-time assist record with 22 career outfield assists.

The membership of the NCBWA will choose the Dick Howser Trophy based on two rounds of national voting. Three 2009 finalists will be announced just prior to the first game of the College World Series with a press conference slated for Saturday, June 13, at 9:30 a.m. (CDT) at the Omaha Press Club in the old First National Bank Building. The winner will be named in a national broadcast from Lubbock, Texas, on Thursday, July 2.

The 16 candidates hail from nine different conferences and 16 different schools.. The Southeastern Conference paces the pack with three semifinalists. Nine different positions afield, including four pitchers, join one designated hitter and a utility player among this diversified group.

The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball's most prestigious award.

Criteria for consideration for the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser's life.

A Florida native, Howser was twice an All-America shortstop at Florida State University (1957-58), and then coached the Seminoles in 1979 after a career as a major league player and coach. After one year in the college ranks, Howser returned to the majors to manage the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals and won the World Series with the Royals in 1985. The baseball stadium on the Florida State campus is named for Howser.

The winner's name is inscribed on the permanent trophy, a bronze bust of Howser displayed at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg - home of the defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays and the 1999 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four – along with several other locations. Both the winner and his school receive a special trophy to keep.

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