Ryan Hastings was named a semifinalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award on Monday.
March 10, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois first baseman Ryan Hastings was named Monday as one of 30 semifinalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which is given to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I baseball. Awarded annually in eight Division I sports, the award focuses on the criteria of classroom, character, community and competition. Hastings is one of three Big Ten student-athletes on the list along with Penn State's Brian Ernst and Michigan's Leif Mahler.
An acronym for "Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School," this is the second year that baseball players are eligible for the award. A national media committee will select 10 finalists in mid-April, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote that will include coaches, media and fans. The winner will be announced at the 2008 College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Hastings made the semifinal cut after being a three-year letterman for the Illini and compiling a .316 career batting average in three seasons. He posted career highs in batting average (.330), runs (38), home runs (6) and slugging percentage (.487) in 2007 and ranked second on the team in home runs and third in slugging percentage last season.
He was named Academic All-District by CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine in 2007 after being named Academic All-Big Ten in both 2006 and 2007. Hastings finished his bachelor's degree in recreation, sport and tourism in May 2007 with a 3.46 GPA and currently is enrolled in the sport management master's program with plans to graduate in the summer of 2008. He received the George Huff Award in 2006, given to student-athletes who earn a varsity letter and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in consecutive semesters. Hastings also completed a semester-long internship with the Champaign County Sports Commission to gain experience and fulfill a degree requirement.
He also has fought through adversity in his career, taking a medical redshirt during the Illini's 2005 Big Ten championship run because of a wrist injury. Hastings then battled back from it to post consecutive solid seasons both offensively and defensively for Illinois, becoming one of the team's leaders in his final three years.
In addition, Hastings has been active in his community, hosting children from the Challenger Baseball League during their visits to Illini baseball games and also working with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Angel Tree Project. He has participated in multiple Reading Nights at Robeson Elementary School in Champaign and at the "Special Spectators" Tailgate before Illini football games for children from the pediatric oncology unit at Carle Foundation Hospital.