March 1, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - University of New Mexico junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda has been named to the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award delivered by Papa John's Pizza Watch List today. Neda is one of 53 catchers up for the prestigious award given to the nation's top catcher. Neda is currently hitting .433 on the season with six RBIs and two doubles.
"Rafael Neda is the best catcher in the nation," said Lobo head coach Ray Birmingham. "Neda has been very involved in the community. The people of Albuquerque love him and the things he's done for kids in this town. He is always willing to help in anyway possible. Neda is what college baseball is all about. He also represents and speaks well for the Hispanic community. He is all class in every way and a great representative of college baseball and that's what the Johnny Bench Award is all about."
Neda was selected for more than his ability behind the plate. The junior from Obregon, Sonora, Mexico is involved in community service projects, including Power Pals at Kirtland Elementary School, where Lobo baseball players adopt a child to read to once a week and Toys-for-Tots where UNM students provided needy children with gifts at Christmas.
Neda also participated in the La Familia Holiday Party where he helped serve food and signed autographs for children. He also took part in a free camp put on by Lobo baseball for children of US soldiers serving in the military. Neda also helped with the UNM Back Pack Drive, where UNM student-athletes helped fill and distribute backpacks with school supplies to children in need.
"He leads by example on and off the field." said Birmingham. "He will go the extra mile to show the rest of the team that hard work will pay off."
The field will be narrowed down to ten semifinalists and will be announced on May 19. The finalists will be announced June 2 with the winner being announced at the 13th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on July 1.
For more information, visit www.GoLobos.com.