BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Arkansas baseball player Andrew Benintendi and Florida softball player Lauren Haeger have been named the 2014-2015 Roy F. Kramer SEC Male and Female Athletes of the Year by a vote of the league's athletics directors, Commissioner Greg Sankey announced today.
"Andrew and Lauren have competed at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics, and through their hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence, have been successful in their athletic endeavors," said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. "They are outstanding representatives of their universities as both students and athletes, and the SEC is proud to honor them for their accomplishments."
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Benintendi won both the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy as the top Division I baseball player in the country and the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur baseball player. In addition, he was named national player of the year by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America.
The first SEC and National Player of the Year in program history, Benintendi is the first Division I player in seven years and first SEC player in nine years to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season.
He led the SEC in batting average (.376), home runs (20), slugging percentage (.717), on‐base percentage (.488) and walks (50) and became the third highest MLB draft pick in school history, taken No. 7 overall by the Boston Red Sox.
Haeger led Florida softball to its second consecutive national championship in 2015 and became only the third in NCAA history to claim each of softball's highest honors in a single season - Honda Award, USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year and Women's College World Series Most Outstanding Player.
The Peoria, Ariz., native joins Babe Ruth as the only players in Division I softball, baseball or Major League Baseball history to reach the 70‐70 plateau (career victories and career homeruns). Her many honors include being named a two‐time NFCA first‐team All‐American, 2015 SEC Pitcher of the Year, and two‐time first‐team All‐SEC.
She holds the SEC record for career home runs (71) and the school record for career RBI (260). In the circle in 2015, she turned in a 32‐2 record after opening the season with 24 consecutive wins for the best start in school history. She led the team with 19 home runs and 71 RBI, while her 1.23 ERA ranked fifth nationally.
The other male nominees were: Amari Cooper, Alabama (football); Reese Dismukes, Auburn (football); Marquis Dendy, Florida (track & field); Maicel Uibo, Georgia (track & field); Willie Cauley‐Stein, Kentucky (basketball); Vernon Norwood, LSU (track & field); Senquez Golson, Ole Miss (football); Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (football); Shane Ray, Missouri (football); Will Starke, South Carolina (golf); Mikelis Libietis, Tennessee (tennis); Deon Lendore, Texas A&M (track & field); Carson Fulmer, Vanderbilt (baseball).
The other female nominees were: Emma Talley, Alabama (golf); Dominique Scott, Arkansas (track & field); Emily Carosone, Auburn (softball); Kendell Williams, Georgia (track & field); Kendra Harrison, Kentucky (track & field); Madelene Sagstrom, LSU (golf); Julia Jones, Ole Miss (tennis); Rhianwedd Price, Mississippi State (track & field); Kearsten Peoples, Missouri (track & field); Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina (basketball); Chelsea Blaase, Tennessee (cross country/track & field); Shamier Little, Texas A&M (track & field); Simone Charley, Vanderbilt (track & field/soccer).
The SEC Athletes of the Year Awards were first presented in 1976 for men and 1984 for women. The award was renamed the Roy F. Kramer Athletes of the Year in 2004 to honor the former commissioner who served the conference from 1990-2002.
Past recipients of the SEC Athlete of the Year Award include:
2014 - AJ Reed, Kentucky (baseball) and Hannah Rogers, Florida (softball); 2013 - Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (football) and Allison Schmitt, Georgia (swimming); 2012 - Anthony Davis, Kentucy (basketball) and Brooke Pancake, Alabama (golf); 2011 - John-Patrick Smith, Tennessee (tennis) and Kayla Hoffman, Alabama (gymnastics); 2010 - Mark Ingram, Alabama (football) and Susan Jackson, LSU (gymnastics); 2009 - Tim Tebow, Florida (football) and Courtney Kupets, Georgia (gymnastics); 2008 - Tim Tebow, Florida (football) and Candace Parker, Tennessee (basketball); 2007 - David Price, Vanderbilt (baseball) and Monica Abbott, Tennessee (softball); 2006 - Xavier Carter, LSU (track & field) and Seimone Augustus, LSU (basketball); 2005 - Ryan Lochte, Florida (swimming) and Kirsty Coventry, Auburn (swimming); 2004 - Alistair Cragg, Arkansas (cross country/track) and Jeana Rice, Alabama (gymnastics); 2003 - Alistair Cragg, Arkansas (cross country/track) and LaToya Thomas, Mississippi State (basketball); 2002 - Walter Davis, LSU (track & field) and Andree' Pickens, Alabama (gymnastics); 2001 - Matias Boeker, Georgia (tennis) and Amy Yoder Begley, Arkansas (cross country/track); 2000 - Kip Bouknight , South Carolina (baseball) and Kristy Kowal, Georgia (swimming); 1999 - Tim Couch, Kentucky (football) and Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee (basketball); 1998 - Peyton Manning, Tennessee (football) and Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee (basketball); 1997 - Danny Wuerffel, Florida (football) and Trinity Johnson, South Carolina (softball); 1996 - Danny Wuerffel, Florida (football) and Saudia Roundtree, Georgia (basketball); 1995 - Todd Helton, Tennessee (baseball) and Jenny Hansen, Kentucky (gymnastics); 1994 - Corliss Williamson, Arkansas (basketball) and Nicole Haislett, Florida (swimming); 1993 - Jamal Mashburn, Kentucky (basketball) and Nicole Haislett, Florida (swimming); 1992 - Shaquille O'Neal, LSU (basketball) and Vicki Goetze, Georgia (golf); 1991 - Shaquille O'Neal, LSU (basketball) and Daedra Charles, Tennessee (basketball); 1990 - Alec Kessler, Georgia (basketball) and Dee Foster, Alabama (gymnastics); 1989 - Derrick Thomas, Alabama (football) and Bridgette Gordon, Tennessee (basketball); 1988 - Will Perdue, Vanderbilt (basketball) and Dara Torres, Florida (swimming); 1987 - Cornelius Bennett, Alabama (football) and Lillie Leatherwood-King, Alabama (track and field); 1986 - Bo Jackson, Auburn (football) and Jennifer Gillom, Ole Miss (basketball); 1985 - Will Clark, Mississippi State (baseball) and Penney Hauschild, Alabama (gymnastics); 1984 - Terry Hoage, Georgia (football) and Tracy Caulkins, Florida (swimming); 1983 - Herschel Walker, Georgia (football/track and field); 1982 - Buck Belue, Georgia (football/baseball); 1981 - Rowdy Gaines, Auburn (swimming); 1980 - Kyle Macy, Kentucky (basketball); 1979 - Reggie King, Alabama (basketball); 1978 - Jack Givens, Kentucky (basketball); 1977 - Larry Seivers, Tennessee (football); and 1976 - Harvey Glance, Auburn (track and field).