Feb. 20, 2014
CHICAGO - Brittany Gardner (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) was one of 30 student-athletes from NCAA Division I softball to be selected as a candidate for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award, as announced today. To be eligible for the award, an individual must be a senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence- community, classroom, character, and competition.
Gardner has cemented herself as one of the top pitchers ever to wear a Loyola uniform, becoming the first hurler in Loyola history to be named a First-Team All-Horizon League selection in each of her first three seasons. A 2012 NFCA Second Team All-Great Lakes Region selection, Gardner became Loyola's all-time leader in strikeouts last April and has a career total of 566. The 2012 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year finished the 2013 season with a 16-10 record, along with a 2.16 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 176.2 innings of work.
After powering Loyola to a run-rule victory over Winthrop last weekend, Gardner increased her total career wins to 49, and she needs just two more victories in the circle to tie Loyola's all-time record (51). The lefty has also recorded three no-hitters during her career in Maroon & Gold.
A two-time Horizon League Academic Honor Roll selection and a NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete, Gardner carries a 3.59 grade-point average as a Social Work major with a minor in Psychology of Crime and Justice. She interns in the Community Violence Prevention Program at the Chicago Youth Centers, providing support and counseling to teenagers on parole.
Gardner has also spearheaded Loyola softball's community service efforts, volunteering her time at MacNeal Hospital for the past ten years. The senior organized a clothing closet for the hospital's discharged patients and also organized a clothing drive in order to supply extra inventory. In part due to her efforts, Loyola softball was awarded the Horizon League Community Outreach Award in 2013, annually given to one team at each institution for its outstanding work in the community.
A member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), Gardner was also one of twenty-five rising seniors named to the university's prestigious Maroon & Gold Society for the 2013-14 academic year, awarded to those who demonstrate a commitment to leadership, academic excellence and service to others. Through the society, Gardner has acted as a liaison between the student body and University President Michael J. Garanzini.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The crop of candidates wil lbe narrowed down to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those names will then be placed on the official ballot, which will be distributed nationwide to media, coaches and fans, who in turn, will select the winner. This year's Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, May 29-June 4.
Gardner and the Ramblers return to action this weekend when they head to the Blues City Classic in Southaven, Miss., Feb. 21-23.