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Wednesday, June 7

Trio of Redbird pitchers named Valley Scholar-Athletes

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[JUNE 7, 2006]  NORMAL -- A student-athlete's grades in the classroom and statistics on the field usually dictate how successful a given school year was for them. For Illinois State pitchers Luke Baughman, Dan Frega and Mike Hlavacek, the 2006 season must have been pretty successful, as all have been named to the Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete Team as honorable mention selections for their performances in the classroom and on the field in 2006. The accolades are the first for each player.

It takes a lot of hard work to do well in the classroom and on the field, and ISU head coach Jim Brownlee is proud of his three junior hurlers for all their dedication.

"We have really stressed the importance of establishing a strong academic team since we came here, and these three guys have each done their part," said Brownlee. "Luke, Dan and Mike all work very hard both on the field and in the classroom. This honor proves that and should really give each of them and the rest of our team something to strive for next season."

Nominees for the MVC Scholar-Athlete Team must be starters or important reserves, with at least a 3.00 cumulative grade-point average. The student-athletes must have also reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at their school and must have completed at least one full academic year at their institution.

Baughman, an elementary education major, carries a 3.41 cumulative grade-point average to go along with a 4-6 record in 18 appearances on the mound in 2006 for the Redbirds. The Normal Community graduate and native of Normal notched back-to-back midweek wins over Big Ten Conference foe Iowa and also picked up the win in the third annual Horenberger-Bass Classic over Illinois Wesleyan in front of a hometown crowd in Bloomington.

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Frega, an art major who carries a 3.17 cumulative grade-point average, posted a 1-4 record with a 5.60 ERA in 24 appearances in 2006 for the 'Birds in his third season at ISU. The Lombard native made five starts on the mound and was fifth on the team with 38 strikeouts. The big right-hander picked up his lone win of the season on April 9 against then No. 23 Creighton, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief to secure a 14-13 win for the Redbirds on the road. Frega has been drafted by the Cleveland Indians [related article].

Hlavacek rounds out the trio, as a math major who posted a 3.08 cumulative grade-point average in his year at Illinois State after transferring from Elgin Community College. The Hoffman Estates native assumed the role of the closer for the 'Birds midway through the season and tied for fifth in the Valley with six saves on the season in 26 appearances out of the bullpen.

[Illinois State University news release from Mike Williams]

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