Gators’ Mike Zunino named SEC Player of the Year

On Tuesday, the Southeastern Conference made official what Florida fans have known for a couple days: Mike Zunino is the player of the year.

After Zunino became Mr. Clutch for the Gators against Vanderbilt and Kentucky, it seemed a foregone conclusion the league’s leader in runs (62), home runs (15), RBI (59) and total bases (141) would capture the award.

Zunino also finished second in the league in batting average (.383) and slugging percentage (.701) and was one of the top defensive catchers in the SEC.

With Zunino winning Player of the Year honors and Kelsey Bruder taking softball’s SEC Player of the Year award, 2011 marks the first time in school history Gators have had the top player in both sports.

Zunino was also named to the All-SEC first team, along with right fielder Preston Tucker and designated hitter and pitcher Brian Johnson.

Second baseman Josh Adams, shortstop Nolan Fontana and pitcher Hudson Randall all earned second-team honors.

Fontana and Zunino were both also named to the All-SEC defensive team.

Despite being injured for nearly a month this season, third-baseman Zack Powers was named to the All-SEC freshman team, along with pitcher Karsten Whitson.

The awards were announced Tuesday in Hoover, the site of the 2011 SEC Baseball Tournament.

The tournament begins tomorrow, with Florida taking on Mississippi State in the second game of the day. The game will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the day’s first game, which will begin at 10:30.

Thomas Goldkamp is the Gator Country beat reporter for football, basketball and basketball recruiting. You can find his latest stories here and get breaking Univ. of Fla. news on Twitter at GoldkampGC.