OKLAHOMA CITY — USA Softball, the national governing body of softball, announced the 2018 Top 50 Collegiate Player of the Year "Watch List" on Wednesday afternoon. The listing includes 2017 USA Softball Player of the Year Kelly Barnhill and a total of 13 repeat "Watch List" honorees. They join 37 other student-athletes on the “Watch List” for the 2018 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. The award enters its 17th season and 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), Florida’s Lauren Haeger (2015), Michigan’s Sierra Romero (2016) and Kelly Barnhill (2017).
The preseason “Watch List” includes 23 seniors, 18 juniors and 9 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 32 NCAA Division I universities and 13 athletic conferences. Oklahoma leads the way among universities with five athlete representatives, while Arizona and Oregon have four athletes on the “Watch List” apiece. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is also well-represented with eight member-schools, while five universities represent the Pac-12 Conference.
The Top 25 Finalists for the 2018 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 25. 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 9 and the Top 3 announced May 23. The 2018 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 29.
In addition to bestowing the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, USA Softball is now in its 16th 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 preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll was released Jan. 30 with Oklahoma, Florida, Oregon, UCLA and Washington taking the Top 5 spots respectively.
Courtesy of USA Softball