OKLAHOMA CITY — With just a little over a week until the start of the 2016 NCAA Softball season, 50 student-athletes from across the country have been selected for the “Watch List” for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced on Feb. 3. Now in its 15th year, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, awarded by the National Governing Body for Softball in the United States, recognizes outstanding athletic achievement by Division I female collegiate softball players across the country.
Previous recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the most prestigious individual honor in NCAA Division I Softball, are UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman (2002), Texas pitcher Cat Osterman (2003, 2005 and 2006), Florida State pitcher Jessica Van der Linden (2004), Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott (2007), Virginia Tech pitcher Angela Tincher (2008), Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie (2009 and 2010), Stanford shortstop Ashley Hansen (2011), Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts (2012 and 2013), Florida State's Lacey Waldrop (2014) and Florida’s Lauren Haeger (2015).
The pre-season “Watch List” includes 25 seniors, 15 juniors and 10 sophomores, with freshman ineligible for consideration. (Freshman can be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award once they have competed at the collegiate level). Athletes named to the “Watch List” represent 35 NCAA Division I universities and 15 athletic conferences. Georgia, LSU and Michigan lead the way among universities with three athlete representatives each, while Alabama, Auburn, California, Florida, James Madison, Louisiana-Lafayette, Oklahoma, Oregon and UCLA have two athletes on the "Watch List" apiece. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is also well represented among the Top 50 "Watch List" with eight member-schools represented with the Pac-12 Conference represented by six universities.
Eight athletes on the Top 50 "Watch List" will compete as a member of the 2016 USA Softball Women's National Team this summer. An additional six athletes will also compete for the Red, White and Blue this summer as a member of the 2016 USA Softball Women’s Elite Team.
The Top 25 Finalists for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 13. While an athlete does not have to be on the “Watch List” to be considered for the Top 25, the eventual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will come from the Top 25 Finalists. The Top 10 Finalists will be announced May 11 and the Top 3 announced May 25. The 2015 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 31.
In addition to bestowing the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, ASA/USA Softball is now in its 14th season of presenting the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll and the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week, which are announced Tuesdays during the regular season. The pre-season ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll was released Jan. 26 with Florida, Michigan, LSU, Oregon and Alabama taking the Top 5 spots respectively.
-- Courtesy of ASA/USA Softball