Photos and portions of this story courtesy of Columbia Sports Information/Media Relations and Dartmouth Athletics Communications
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Columbia senior
shortstop Aaron Silbar and Dartmouth senior
outfielder Jeff Keller are among the 30 NCAA
baseball student-athletes selected as candidates for the 2014
Senior CLASS Award, the organization announced yesterday.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence — community, classroom, character and competition.
A native of Atherton, Calif., Keller was named the 2014 Ivy League Preseason Player of the Year by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball after leading the nation in doubles per game as a junior. He also was fifth among Division I players with his .702 slugging percentage as he hit .369 while leading the league with 21 doubles, four triples, 39 runs, 41 RBIs and 99 total bases, not to mention his six home runs and .453 on-base percentage. Those numbers helped him earn spots on the All-Ivy First Team, New England All-Stars First Team and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-Region Second Team as well as All-America honorable mention from CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
Keller also became the first Dartmouth baseball player to earn Academic All-America honors, making the first team as an economics major with a 3.96 GPA. A Rhodes Scholarship finalist, the Dartmouth team co-captain has spent time in the community volunteering with the Big Green Readers program and Best Buddies in the Upper Valley, plus the Riekes Center back home in California.
A co-captain this season, Silbar is starting at short for the third straight year. He was an all-Ivy League selection a year ago after batting .306 with 52 hits. In the classroom, Silbar has excelled as a financial economics major and has lined up a job with Bank of America Merrill Lynch after graduation.
In the community, Silbar has been active in Level The Field, a New York City initiative that provides camp opportunities to inner-city youth. He also spent time during his summer internship last year building and rejuvenating community gardens in Queens.
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.
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 C’s of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 College World Series in June.