Western Kentucky University senior catcher Matt Rice has been named the Capital One Academic All-American of the Year, announced Tuesday by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Rice was chosen as the winner of the Academic All-American of the Year award for the University Division, joining Concordia University, St. Paul junior third baseman Bryan Lippincott, who was named the winner for the College Division.
A mechanical engineering major with a 4.00 GPA, Rice’s first-team selection this year improves on his second team Capital One Academic All-America selection as a junior. He earned third-team honors as a sophomore. Rice is the recipient of the Charles R. Martin, H.H. Cherry, College Heights Foundation and national/international scholarships.
This season, the Johnson City, Tenn., native is batting a team high .352 with 44 runs, 14 doubles, nine home runs and 56 RBIs, which ranks second in the league. He also has a.993 fielding percentage while leading the Hilltoppers to a 32-22 record and a fourth-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference regular-season standings.
Rice earned first team All-Sun Belt Conference honors in 2010. With 308 base hits in his college career, he holds the school record for hits in a career. He also owns the school record with 215 career RBIs. As a junior, he batted .369 with ten homers and 65 RBIs.
In his sophomore season, he helped WKU post a 42-20 record and earn a berth in an NCAA Regional and set a school record with a 31-game hitting streak.
Only 33 players nationally are given Academic All-America honors in the University Division. Rice is the first team’s lone catcher.
Rice was eligible for Academic All-America honors after being named to the all-district first team earlier this season. The other Hilltoppers baseball Academic All-Americans are Jake Glasser (1973), Erick Rosa (1997), Matt Payton (2010) and Matt Ridings (2010).