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McHugh Among 15 Semifinalists for Johnny Bench Award

May 16, 2014


Johnny Bench Award Semifinalists Release

WICHITA, Kan. -- Purdue baseball's Sean McHughwas among the 15 student-athletes nationally to advance from the watch list to the semifinalist round of the Johnny Bench Award, which recognizes the top Division I catcher.

After making the majority of his starts at third base last season, McHugh was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list on March 21 upon taking over as the Boilermakers' full-time catcher in 2014. He has started each of Purdue's first 21 Big Ten games behind the plate and 39 of the 47 games overall.

McHugh joins former teammate Kevin Plaweckias Boilers to become semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award, which is handed out by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. Plawecki was one of three finalists in 2012 after also being a semifinalist in 2011.

This year's three finalists will be announced in early June. Indiana's Kyle Schwarber and McHugh are the two Big Ten representatives on the list of semifinalists. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 17th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 26.

The Johnny Bench Award was formed to be awarded annually to the nation's top collegiate catcher based on athletic ability, sportsmanship, team leadership and character. It was started in 2000 and notable winners include Mike Zunino (Florida, 2012), Bryan Holaday (TCU, 2010), Buster Posey (Florida State, 2008), Kurt Suzuki (Cal State Fullerton, 2004), Ryan Garko (Stanford, 2003) and Kelly Shoppach (Baylor, 2001). Mississippi's Stuart Turner won the award last year.

McHugh is the only Boilermaker that has started every game this season, batting third in the lineup a team-high 29 times. The eight games in which he did not start at catcher he was still on the field at either third or first base. Entering the final weekend of the regular season, the senior leads Purdue in batting average (.302), hits (57), doubles (13), home runs (4), slugging percentage (.434) and walks (19). He has thrown out 24 of 48 base stealers to rank second in the Big Ten and also picked off two other runners.

McHugh is looking to become the first Boilermaker to win the team triple crown since 2007. He has started 97 of the 98 games the last two seasons after batting .317 with 24 RBI while playing in 30 games as the backup catcher and occasional designated hitter for Purdue's 2012 Big Ten championship team. The Leawood, Kan., native has made 125 starts in his career, seeing action at catcher, third base, first base, shortstop, right field and DH as a Boilermaker.

McHugh and classmates Conner Hudnall and Steve Maniago will be recognized for their contributions to Purdue baseball prior to Saturday's regular-season finale against Iowa. The Boilermakers need to sweep the Hawkeyes this weekend to make the Big Ten Tournament. The series begins tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Johnny Bench Award semifinalists (in alphabetical order)
• Will Allen, University of Mississippi
• Brett Austin, North Carolina State University
• Anthony Azar, Sam Houston State University
• Aramis Garcia, Florida International University
• Grayson Greiner University of South Carolina
• Taylor Gushue, University of Florida
• Sean Hagen, Eastern Kentucky University
• Mike Hollenbeck, Illinois State University
Sean McHugh, Purdue University
• Brian O'Keefe, Saint Joseph's University
• Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State University
• Alex Real, University of New Mexico
• Kyle Schwarber, Indiana University
• Mark Zagunis, Virginia Tech
• Shane Zeile, UCLA  

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