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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The National Fastpitch Coaches Association is pleased to announce the three finalists for the inaugural Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year award.

The final three are University of Texas at Tyler senior pitcher Kelsie Batten, Rowan University senior shortstop Shilah Snead and St. John Fisher College sophomore pitcher Lindsey Thayer. All three helped their teams be one of the eight squads that advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship at the James I. Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Va.

For the second straight season, Batten will compete for a national championship in Salem, after leading the (47-5) Patriots back to the championship series against 2009 titlist Messiah College, following their loss to three-time champion Tufts University in the finals last year. The first two games of the best-of-three championship series will be played starting at noon ET today, with a third game slated for Tuesday, if needed.

So far this season, four-time NFCA All-American Batten has a 35-4 record, with 180 strikeouts and just 33 walks over 220.2 innings. She has allowed 135 hits and 33 runs, while her offense has outscored opponents 250-53. In her four games in Salem, Batten has gone 3-1 with a 0.58 ERA, allowing 14 hits, two runs and two walks while fanning 24 opposing batters.

Two-time All-American Snead batted .480 for the (42-11) Profs this season, with 70 runs, 86 hits, 34 RBI and 34 steals in 38 attempts. She collected 17 doubles, two triples and nine homers, while walking 22 times and striking out just seven times in 208 plate appearances. In four Salem games, Snead was 6-for-12 (.500) with four runs, a double, homer and three RBI.

Thayer — also a two-time All-American — was dominant the circle in the first four of her five Salem outings, allowing a total of 10 hits and two runs over those first four games, while walking five and striking out 37 over 27 innings. Including Sunday’s 6-0 loss to finalist Texas-Tyler, she went 3-2 for the event, allowing 23 hits, eight runs, seven walks and fanned 41 while pitching all 34 of the (41-12) Cardinals’ innings. For the year, Thayer went 31-7 with a 0.94 ERA, 112 hits, 45 runs (34 earned), 44 walks and 467 strikeouts over 252.2 innings. After just two seasons at St. John Fisher, she already has the school record for strikeouts (761).

All three players were in the initial watch list group of 50 at the start of the season and remained on the list through cuts to 25 and 10 finalists, respectively. The list was a collaborative effort between the NFCA’s Division III Head Coaches and All-America committees.

Schutt Sports and the NFCA also presented a Division III National Freshman of the Year award for the first time this season, with that award going last Wednesday to Virginia Wesleyan College pitcher Kandis Kresinske.

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