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Brazelton Makes Semifinalist List for Rotary Award

May 16, 2001 · MT Media Relations
HOUSTON-A starting staff with a combined ERA of 1.58 and some of the most feared hitters in the country make up the list of 12 semifinalists for the 2001 Rotary Smith Award, which was announced today. The winner will be revealed at the conclusion of a gala dinner in Houston on June 28th.

The list of 12 includes starting pitchers Kenny Baugh of Rice, Dewon Brazelton of Middle Tennessee, Aaron Heilman of Notre Dame, Mark Prior of Southern California, Justin Pope of Central Florida and Kirk Saarloos of Cal-State Fullerton along with UCLA DH Brian Baron , shortstop Chris Burke of Tennessee, third baseman Jake Gautreau of Tulane, outfielder John-Ford Griffin of Florida State, catcher Casey Meyers of Arizona State and first baseman/relief pitcher John VanBenschoten of Kent State.

Five of the six starters are ranked among the top ten in the Nation in ERA , with Prior and Pope tied for second at 1.34, followed by Heilman (6th, 1.50) Brazelton (7th, 1.55) and Baugh (9th, 1.69) while Saarlos is 19th at 2.03. Prior leads the nation with 161 strikeouts (in 107.2 innings), while Brazelton is second (142) and Pope third (139). Both Saarloos and Heilman have 13-game winning streak.

Gautreau, who is second in the country with 80 RBI, is a two-time Conference USA Player of the Year, while Burke was named the SEC's top player this season. Griffin (.456) is third in the nation in hitting, while Baron is fifth (.450). VanBenschoten leads the country in homers (26), while Meyers is hitting .402 and has moved into second place on the Pac-10 career RBI list (268).

Voting to determine the three 2001 Rotary Smith finalists will begin on Thursday, May 17 and run through May 30. Finalists will be announced prior to the start of NCAA Super Regional Action, the week of June 1-3.

Now in its 14th year, the Rotary Smith Award is awarded each summer to the nation's top college baseball player. Once again this year, the gala award dinner will be held at the Doubletree-Post Oak Hotel in Houston. The award, a national project of the Rotary Club of Houston, raises money for Rotary national charities, Texas Children.s Hospital and the Karl Young League. Seven previous winners of the were active in major league baseball during the 2000 campaign 1988 winner Andy Benes of Evansville (St. Louis Cardinals), 1991 winner Bobby Jones of Fresno State (New York Mets), 1993 winner Darren Dreifort of Wichita State (Los Angeles Dodgers), 1994 winner Jason Varitek of Georgia Tech (Boston Red Sox), 1995 winner Mark Kotsay of Cal.-State Fullerton (Florida Marlins), 1996 winner Kris Benson of Clemson (Pittsburgh) and 1997 winner Tim Hudson of Auburn (Oakland Athletics).

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