Matthes Finalist For Golden Spikes Award

Alabama right fielder Kent Matthes is one of five finalists for the 2009 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, according to USA Baseball. The Golden Spikes Award, in its 32nd year, is presented annually to the nation's premier amateur baseball player.



"It is a tremendous honor for me to represent The University of Alabama as a finalist for such a prestigious award," Matthes said. "All of the finalists are worthy candidates and great players and to be able to join them is truly an honor. I'd like to thank Coach (Jim) Wells, Coach (Mitch) Gaspard and Coach (Dax) Norris for their support this year and for all they have done for me at Alabama. I'd also like to thank my Crimson Tide teammates for making my senior season a memorable one."

Matthes is joined by North Carolina first baseman Dustin Ackley, Arizona State pitcher Mike Leake, Kansas State pitcher A.J. Morris and San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

Former All-American David Magadan, who now serves as the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox, is the only Alabama player to win the Golden Spikes Award, taking home the honor in 1983. Roberto Vaz was the last Tide player named a finalist for the award in 1997.

Fans can continue to stay up to date on the award by visiting GoldenSpikesAward.com. The new Web site features content devoted exclusively to the GSA, including news, voting history, past-winner photo galleries, and photographs and video highlights for 2009 finalists.

The 2009 GSA will be awarded live on July 14 at All-Star FanFest in St. Louis as part of a production by MLB and MLBAM. Immediately following the presentation, footage will be streamed on the Internet exclusively at GoldenSpikesAward.com and MLB.com. This year marks the first time that the award will be presented live at All-Star FanFest.

"As is the case each year, the voting committee was faced with a difficult task in narrowing the list of Golden Spikes Award candidates from 30 players to five," said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. "Dustin Ackley, Mike Leake, Kent Matthes, A.J. Morris, and Stephen Strasburg have each had an exceptional year, and they are more than deserving finalists."

Matthes wrapped up tremendous senior season by hitting .358 (73-for-204) with 28 home runs and 81 RBI in 58 games. He currently leads the nation in home runs and set a new single-season school record with in the process. The previous record was 27 home runs by Doug Duke in 1986. Matthes also led the team with a .858 slugging percentage and 67 runs scored. In addition, more than half of his total hits were extra base hits.

The senior was named the 2009 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and is also a semi-finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, given to the national player of the year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

In 2007, USA Baseball instituted a new selection and balloting procedure for the most prestigious award in amateur baseball, and it is following the same model again in 2009. After accepting nominations from sports information directors across the country, a committee voted to determine 30 semifinalists. The names of the 30 semifinalists were forwarded to a voting body of 125 who selected the five finalists, and the committee will now determine the eventual 2009 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award winner.

About the Golden Spikes Award

Since 1978, USA Baseball has honored the top amateur baseball player in the country with the Golden Spikes Award. Following the first ever presentation of the Award to Bob Horner of Arizona State, the Golden Spikes Award has been presented each year to the player who exhibits exceptional athletic ability and exemplary sportsmanship. The 2008 Golden Spikes Award winner was Buster Posey of Florida State. Past winners of this prestigious award include current Major League Baseball players such as David Price ('07), Tim Lincecum ('06), Alex Gordon ('05), Jered Weaver ('04), Rickie Weeks ('03), Khalil Greene ('02), Jason Jennings ('00), Pat Burrell (‘98), J.D. Drew ('97), Mark Kotsay ('95), and Jason Varitek ('94). Former Major League stars that have captured the award include Robin Ventura ('88), Jim Abbott ('87), Will Clark ('85), Dave Magadan ('83), Terry Francona ('80), Tim Wallach ('79), and Bob Horner ('78).

About USA Baseball

USA Baseball is the National Governing Body of amateur baseball in the United States and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The organization selects and trains the United States Olympic Baseball Team (and all other USA Baseball Professional Teams); the USA Baseball National Team (Collegiate); the USA Baseball 18U, 16U and 14U National Teams; and the USA Baseball Women's National Team, all of which participate in various international competitions each year. USA Baseball also presents the Golden Spikes Award annually to top player in college baseball. For more information, please visit www.usabaseball.com and www.goldenspikesaward.com. To receive monthly USA Baseball E-mail newsletters delivered straight to your inbox, please visit www.usabaseball.com and register for free in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.

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