Villines named Top-30 candidate for Senior CLASS Award

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas baseball senior closer Stephen Villines was named one of 30 candidates to be considered for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate baseball, as announced by the committee Monday morning.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. Villines is the fourth Jayhawk to be considered for this award during the 2016-17 school year, joining Cassie Wait (volleyball), Fish Smithson (football) and Frank Mason III (men’s basketball) as Kansas nominees.

Villines is just one of four Big 12 baseball players to appear on the list of 30. Joining him are Tyler Buffett (Oklahoma State), Jackson Cramer (West Virginia) and Matt Menard (Baylor).
A communications major, Villines came to KU as a walk-on and pitched his way to a scholarship after a career being one of the staples head coach Ritch Price can trust out of the bullpen. Because of that drive, Villines ranks second all-time in the Kansas baseball record books with 30 saves. The senior needs just one more save to tie the KU career mark of 31 set by Don Czyz (2003-06).
In addition, the 2015 season proved to be Villines’ most productive season thus far, recording 13 saves to place him second on the Jayhawk single-season charts.
The Senior CLASS Award nomination adds to a long list of career honors for the Lake Forest, California product. A 2016 All-Big 12 Second Team member, Villines was also All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in 2014 and 2015, as well as a 2014 Big 12 All-Freshman Team honoree. Arguably the biggest honor for the right-hander came in 2014 as he was named an NCBWA Second-Team Freshman All-American after posting a 1.50 ERA in 48 innings of work, finishing the season with an all-time KU freshman-best eight saves.

The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2017 College World Series in June.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Villines and the Jayhawks welcome Minnesota to Hoglund Ballpark for midweek action, March 28-29. The two-game series is slated to commence on Tuesday with a 6 p.m. CST first pitch and conclude on Wednesday with a scheduled start of 1:30 p.m.  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.