LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Ten finalists have been selected for the 2016 Schutt Sports / NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award, announced the Association on Thursday afternoon. The award will be presented to the winner prior to the 2016 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The 10 finalists hail from nine different universities and seven conferences. The Southeastern Conference led the way with four selections, which includes Florida’s two representatives. The Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Big South, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Missouri Valley Conference and Western Athletic Conference make up the rest of the field.
Four of the 10 have been named their respective conference’s Freshman of the Year- Florida’s Amanda Lorenz (SEC), Coastal Carolina’s Taty Forbes (Big South), New Mexico State’s Kelsey Horton (WAC) and Marist’s Claire Oberdorf (MAAC). In addition, five honorees- Lorenz, Forbes, Horton, Oberdorf and Southern Illinois’ Brianna Jones (MVC)- earned first-team all-conference honors, while Notre Dame’s (ACC) Ali Western and Texas A&M’s (SEC) Kelli Milligan took home second-team recognition. Florida’s Kelly Barnhill and Ole Miss’ Hailey Lunderman were selected to the SEC’s all-freshman team. The Big 12 has not announced its awards.
The top three finalists will be voted on and released on Wed., May 25. The Schutt Sports / NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy will be presented during a live ceremony on May 31 at the WCWS banquet.
With the Association always searching for innovative ways to promote the sport of softball, the award was created in 2014 from an idea to honor outstanding athletic achievement among freshmen softball student-athletes throughout Division I. In the inaugural year, Auburn’s Kasey Cooper and Tennessee’s Annie Aldrete, were co-winners. Oklahoma’s Paige Parker took home the honor in 2015.
NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year Finalists
Kelly Barnhill – P – Florida
Taty Forbes – OF – Coastal Carolina
Kelsey Horton – 1B – New Mexico State
Brianna Jones – P – Southern Illinois
Shay Knighten – IF – Oklahoma
Amanda Lorenz – OF – Florida
Hailey Lunderman – SS – Ole Miss
Keeli Milligan – OF – Texas A&M
Claire Oberdorf – 2B/C – Marist
Ali Wester – 2B – Notre Dame