OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today the Top 3 Finalists for the 10th Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, which is considered the most prestigious honors in Division I women’s collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Arizona State’s Katelyn Boyd (Phoenix, Ariz.), Stanford’s Ashley Hansen (Chandler, Ariz.) and Missouri’s Chelsea Thomas (Pleasantville, Iowa) are the three remaining athletes in the running and would be the first to win this award from each of their schools.
Past winners of this award include UCLA’s Stacey Nuveman, Florida State’s Jessica Van der Linden, three-time winner Texas pitcher Cat Osterman, Tennessee’s Monica Abbott, Virginia Tech’s Angela Tincher and two-time winner Washington pitcher/hitter Danielle Lawrie.
A significant contributor to Arizona State receiving a top ranking most of the season, Boyd was named to the Pac-10 First Team after leading the conference with 74 runs and an .828 slugging percentage. Her 17 home runs tied at second while her 60 RBI is a third-best in conference play. The junior infielder started in all 59 games played while drawing 46 walks, best in conference play. Boyd is eighth in the nation with her .444 batting average. No. 1 Arizona State will meet up with No. 17 Texas A&M this weekend in Tempe, Ariz., for Super Regionals with the winner advancing to the NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City, June 2-8.
The 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year, Hansen also earned the title of Pac-10 Batting Champion. The junior outfielder’s .500 average is second in the Nation and is 56 points higher than the next-best Pac-10 average which belongs to another finalist in Boyd. Hansen is just the second Stanford player to be named to the first team in each of her first three seasons. This season, Hansen leads the Pac-10 in batting average (.500), hits (92), doubles (25) and on-base percentage (.568). She ranks second in the Pac-10 in slugging percentage (.815) behind Boyd. In 184 at-bats, Hansen has only stuck out four times all season, making her the second toughest player in the nation to strike out. T12. Stanford will face No. 3 Alabama in their Super Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Redshirt sophomore Thomas was picked as the Big 12 Conference’s Pitcher of the Year. With a 1.09 ERA in league play, the best amongst Big 12 pitchers, Thomas went 13-3 against her conference opponents while striking out 166 batters to 27 walks in 115.2 innings pitched. She had the lowest walks per seven innings total in conference play at 1.63, and her 10.05 strikeouts per seven innings was second best in the league. For the season, Thomas is second in the NCAA with a 0.82 earned run average to go with her 29-6 record. In 231.2 innings pitched, Thomas has 342 strikeouts – a Mizzou single season record – and just 40 walks while limiting hitters to a .141 average. No. 4 Missouri will need to take two from No. 14 Washington to advance to the WCWS.
The winner of the 2011 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced on May 31 at the athlete banquet of the 2011 WCWS.
-Courtesy of USA Softball