Donato named finalist for Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award

By Scott Cournoyer

Once every so often, a collegiate talent exemplifies what it means to be a true student athlete. The Massachusetts baseball team outfielder Mike Donato is one of the few players in this day in age to display dedication and commitment to excellence on the baseball field, in the classroom and in the community.

Donato is one of 10 finalists across Division I baseball nominated for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, an acronym for “Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.” The award recognizes the complete student-athlete for their performance on the diamond, as well as their academics and impact in the local community.

“To be nominated for this award is a culmination of all the hard work put in over the last four years,” Donato said. “I’ve been playing baseball since I was five years old, and I always figured it would take me to where I wanted to go in life.”

After seeing regular playing time as a freshman and sophomore, Donato has taken off the last two seasons, excelling in every facet of what it means to be committed to excellence.

“UMass gave me the opportunity to come in and play Division I baseball right out of the gate, and one of the biggest things for me was setting an example for others to follow,” Donato said.

Donato started all 53 games last season as a junior, posting a .336 batting average, driving in 40 runs and slugging 13 doubles and five home runs. The slugger also racked up 73 hits, tying for 10th in the conference, also ranking sixth-most hits for a single season in school history. Donato was also named to the first team All-Atlantic 10 team.

As a senior, Donato was elected as one of three co-captains, being recognized for his leadership and passion for the game.

“Being elected as one of the captains really showed that others recognize the work you put in, and I’m honored to be a leader for this team,” Donato said.

Donato continues to shows great discipline and ability at the plate this season, posting a .331 batting average, a team-high 10 doubles and a .387 on-base percentage.

As a history major, Donato holds a 3.41 grade-point average and has been on the dean’s list, further exemplifying his dedication to everything he does.

“UMass gave me the opportunity to come here and get a great education, while playing baseball at a high level. With or without baseball, I’ve always had aspirations to finish school and receive a degree,” Donato said.

Donato also gives back to the community, volunteering as a teacher’s aide at Wildwood Elementary School where he is involved helping fifth and sixth grade students in subjects such as reading and language arts, as well as social studies.

“After I’m done here, I hope to be able to teach history. Academics has always been my priority. Finishing here with a degree has always been my goal,” Donato said.

Donato will be joined by some of the best senior players in the country, which include finalists 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). Fans can go to the official website, to vote through May 31. The winner will be announced in June at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Scott Cournoyer can be reached at [email protected]