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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The National Fastpitch Coaches Association is proud to join forces with USA Softball to reveal two of their major awards in a live virtual ceremony on June 1 prior to the Women’s College World Series. Co-hosted by the two partners, the 2021 NFCA / Schutt Sports DI Freshman of the Year and USA Softball Collegiate Softball Player of the Year will be announced live at 9:00 p.m. ET / 8:00 p.m. CT. 

The top three finalists for each award will be recognized, along with a few words from a former winner of each accolade, while providing necessary COVID-19 precautions prior to student-athletes competing in the 2021 NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS). The virtual ceremony will be available on NFCA.orgNFCA.org.

“Announcing the winners of these prestigious awards is one of the most anticipated events of the spring,” said NFCA Executive Director Carol Bruggeman. “To share the presentation in a virtual ceremony with USA Softball is an honor. It will be a special evening.”

The NFCA announced its top 15 finalists on May 13 and will reveal the top three, which is voted on by the Division I All-America Committee, on May 27.  The top 10 USA Softball finalists were announced on May 6 with its top three coming out on May 19. 

The NFCA / Schutt Sports Division I National Freshman of the Year award was created in 2014 to honor outstanding athletic achievement among Division I freshmen softball student-athletes. To be eligible, student-athletes must be nominated by their member head coach. With the cancellation of last year’s season due to COVID-19, eligible candidates hail from the 2020 and 2021 freshman classes. 

Previous winners of the award are Annie Aldrete (Tennessee, 2014), Kasey Cooper (Auburn, 2014), Paige Parker (Oklahoma, 2015), Amanda Lorenz (Florida, 2016), Rachel Garcia (UCLA, 2017), Jocelyn Alo (Oklahoma, 2018) and Danielle Williams (Northwestern, 2019). The award was not presented in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, recognizes the outstanding athletic achievement by Division I female players across the country. The award is voted on by coaching representatives of 10 Division I Conferences in the 10 USA Softball Regions, members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country, as well as past winners of the award. 

“The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is an accolade that USA Softball is honored to present each year,” said USA Softball Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Craig Cress. “Although the presentation of the award will look a little different than previous years, USA Softball is devoted to providing a memorable experience for the 2021 award winner as we virtually gather to recognize this great accomplishment.”

Previous recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award are Stacey Nuveman (UCLA, 2002), Cat Osterman (Texas, 2003, 2005 and 2006), Jessica Van der Linden (Florida State, 2004), Monica Abbott (Tennessee, 2007), Angela Tincher (Virginia Tech, 2008), Danielle Lawrie (Washington, 2009 and 2010), Ashley Hansen (Stanford, 2011), Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma, 2012 and 2013), Lacey Waldrop (Florida State, 2014), Lauren Haeger (Florida, 2015), Sierra Romero (Michigan, 2016), Kelly Barnhill (Florida, 2017) and Rachel Garcia (UCLA, 2018 and 2019). A 2020 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award was not given out due to the COVID-19 pandemic and season cancellation.

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