LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The National Fastpitch Coaches Association is pleased to announce the top three finalists for the inaugural Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year award, which will be presented prior to the start of the Division II National Championship in Oklahoma City.
Dixie State’s Janessa Bassett, Anderson’s Cailah Niles and Pittsburg State’s Emmie Robertson are the three outstanding student-athletes who have made the final cut.
Bassett, a speedy outfielder from Stansbury Park, Utah, leads the fourth-ranked Red Storm and the PacWest in batting average (.464), runs (74), triples (9) and stolen bases (42). She also tops the team with 32 walks and a .551 on base percentage. The PacWest Player of the Year Bassett stands third in the NCAA in runs scored and triples, fourth in runs per game (1.42), 11th in stolen bases per game (.81) and 13th in both on base percentage and batting average. In addition, Bassett has collected 77 hits, 12 doubles, two home runs and 26 RBI.
Niles powered her way into the Anderson (S.C.) record books in just her first season as a collegiate catcher, while helping the Trojans to a national ranking, which currently stands at No. 25, a runner-up finish at the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Tournament and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. A native of Phenix City, Ala., Anderson clubbed a program-record 22 home runs and finished one shy of the SAC mark. She currently is the only freshman in Division II ranked in the top three in home runs (3rd) and top five in RBI (69 / 5th). Leading the league in long balls, RBI (67) and total bases (142), she was selected SAC Freshman of the Year and first-team all-conference. Along with her power, Niles is strong defensively behind the plate, posting a .994 fielding percentage and throwing out would be base stealers at a 54.8 percent clip (14-of-31).
Robertson, a native of Lamar, Mo., concluded a decorated rookie season as she was named the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) Pitcher and Freshman of the Year. The rookie hurler broke Pittsburg State’s 13-year old single-season strikeout record with MIAA-best 238. Posting a 26-10 mark and seven shutouts, Robertson led the MIAA in wins, ERA (2.03), appearances (40), opponent’s batting average (.202) and innings (231). In addition, she completed 28 of 31 starts and was named Daktronics/D2SIDA First-Team All-Central Region. Her efforts in the circle, helped the Gorrilas to a runner-up finish in the MIAA Tournament.
The National Freshman of the Year trophy will be presented during a live ceremony at the Division II Championship/All-American banquet on Wednesday May 20.
Behind the collaboration between the NFCA, Schutt Sports and its Division II Head Coaches Committee, the award was created to honor the outstanding athletic achievement among freshmen softball student-athletes throughout Division II.
The Division II National Freshman of the Year award is voted on by the members of the NFCA’s Division II All-American & Coaching Staff of the Year Committee.