UMass' Donato Tabbed A Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Finalist
April 13, 2010
AMHERST, Mass. - UMass baseball senior outfielder Mike Donato has been selected as one of 10 national finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, it was announced on Tuesday. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's 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.
Donato, the lone representative from the Atlantic 10, is joined on the list of finalists by Daniel Bibona (University of California, Irvine), Stephen Cardullo (Florida State), Blake Dean (LSU), Jim Klocke (Southeast Missouri State), Cory Kovanda (Ohio State), Tyler Lyons (Oklahoma State), Matt Payton (Western Kentucky), Tony Plagman (Georgia Tech) and David Towarnicky (Appalachian State).
Nationwide balloting begins immediately to determine the winner, which will be announced in June at the NCAA Men's College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Donato, along with the nine other candidates, will be placed on the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award baseball ballot for a nationwide vote beginning today and concluding May 31. Fan balloting is available on the award's official Web site, www.SeniorCLASSaward.com, as well as through text messaging. Fans can text BASEBALL to 74567 to vote for the finalists. These votes will be combined with votes from coaches and media to determine the recipient of the award.
After seeing regular playing time over his first two seasons with the Minutemen, Donato took his success to a whole new level as a junior in 2009, helping lead UMass to a fourth-place finish in the Atlantic 10 and its first conference tournament berth since 2003. In a talent-stocked Atlantic 10 Conference that saw a record number of players taken in the 2009 MLB Draft, he was one of 12 players to earn an All-Atlantic 10 first team selection last season. Donato posted career highs in virtually every offensive category in 2009, including lifting his batting average nearly 100 points from the previous year.
A fixture in right field, Donato was one of just two Minutemen to play in all 53 games last season. He posted a .336 batting average and scored 36 runs, drove in 40 and belted 13 doubles, two triples and five home runs. Donato led the team in hits (73) and tied for 10th in the A-10, the sixth-most hits in a season in school history. In conference play, he batted .386, tied for ninth in the league, while ranking third in hits with 44. Last fall, he was elected by his peers as one of the squad's three co-captains for 2010.
Thus far in 2010, his final season at UMass, Donato has started all but one of the squad's 22 games and is batting .314 (27-for-86) with eight doubles, one home run, 11 RBI and 14 runs scored.
Donato leads off the field as well, as he boasts a 3.41 grade-point average as a History major. He has been a member of the Dean's List and is a part of Chi Alpha Sigma (National Collegiate Athlete Honor Society). Following graduation, Donato aspires to become a teacher and work in a low-income community.
Away from the diamond, Donato has been involved in various endeavors to better the community since coming to UMass. He is currently volunteering at Wildwood Elementary School as a teacher's aide where he is helping instruct fifth and sixth grade students in Social Studies as well as Reading and Language Arts for children with special needs. He has also worked as a mover for the Trash to Treasures organization and was one of several UMass student-athletes to participate in National Walk to School Day last fall. As the SAAC representative from the baseball team, Donato brought toys from the SAAC toy drive to children in Shriner's Hospital in Springfield during the holiday season. While playing in the NECBL, he took part in running a community baseball camp in North Adams, Mass., during the summer of 2008.