COLUMBIA, MO -- Ten catchers have been announced as Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year winners. The award is sponsored by Diamond Sports, the NFCA's Official Protective Equipment, and is presented to NFCA member schools in each of the following 10 divisions: NCAA (Divisions I, II and III), NAIA, NJCAA (Divisions I, II and III), Cal JC, NWAACC (Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges) and high school.
The 2002 Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year awards were determined by divisional committees made up of NFCA member coaches. Each player was named first-team All-America in her respective division. The winners, by division:
NCAA Division I -- Stacey Nuveman, UCLA
Nuveman, a senior from LaVerne, Calif., batted .529 with 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 64 runs batted in. She became the NCAA career home run leader, finishing her career with 90 home runs. Nuveman was the recipient of the inaugural USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and was one of two softball players nominated for an ESPY Award (Best Female College Athlete). Defensively, she had a .987 fielding percentage and threw out five of the 11 runners who attempted to steal. This marks the third Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year award for Nuveman, having won the award in her sophomore (1999) and junior (2001) seasons. Head Coach: Sue Enquist.
NCAA Division II -- Tracie Schioppi, Cal State University, San Bernardino
Schioppi, a junior from Alta Loma, Calif., was named the 2002 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Most Valuable Player as the junior college transfer helped lead Cal State San Bernardino to a top 10 regional ranking and a 19-game turnaround from the previous season. She hit .357 with 11 home runs and a conference-high 50 RBI. Her 11 homers tied for the league lead. Head Coach: Roxanne Berch.
NCAA Division III -- Shannon Fritzke, Pacific Lutheran University (Wash.)
Fritzke, a senior from Bothell, Wash., hit .469 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI as she helped lead Pacific Lutheran to a 34-0 start and a No. 1 national ranking. Defensively, Fritzke posted a .984 fielding percentage and only five runners attempted to steal on her during the season. Fritzke was named to the All-Tournament Team at the 2002 NCAA Division III National Championship as the Lutes earned a fourth-place finish. Head Coach: Rick Noren.
NAIA -- Leah Azevedo, Oregon Institute of Technology
Azevedo, a senior from Klamath Falls, Ore., hit .500 (78-for-156) with 17 doubles, six home runs and 51 RBI. Azevedo became the first player in Oregon Tech softball history to record a .500 batting average during a season. Co-Head Coaches: Mary Bradford and Dan Miles.
NJCAA Division I -- Ashley Anderson, Indian Hills Community College (Iowa)
Anderson, a sophomore from Des Moines, Iowa, hit .500 with six home runs and 50 RBI to help lead Indian Hills CC to a ninth-place finish at the NJCAA Division I National Championship. Defensively, she had only one error in 300 chances for a .997 fielding percentage. She also threw out 12 of 16 runners attempting to steal. Head Coach: Jeff Kelley.
NJCAA Division II -- Katie Cobos, Phoenix College (Ariz.)
Cobos, a sophomore from Phoenix, becomes a two-time Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year, having also won the award after her freshman year. She hit .421 during the regular season and hit .438 at the NJCAA Division II National Championship, earning All-Tournament honors for the second consecutive year. Head Coach: Heinz Mueller.
NJCAA Division III -- Erica Cibulka, College of DuPage (Ill.)
Cibulka, a sophomore from Glen Ellyn, Ill., is a two-time All-American and a two time All-Tournament selection at the NJCAA Division III National Championship. She hit .417 with 37 RBI to help lead DuPage to a national third-place finish. Cibulka will attend DePaul in the fall. Head Coach: Deb DiMatteo.
Cal JC -- Clair Parga, Cypress College (Calif.)
Parga, a sophomore from Santa Ana, Calif., ranked eighth in hitting in the Orange Empire Conference with a .375 batting average. She hit 10 doubles to go with 52 runs scored and 25 RBI. She drew 27 walks while striking out only five times in 152 at-bats. Parga will attend Cal State Dominguez Hills in the fall. Head Coach: Brad Pickler.
NWAACC -- Sabra Gamel, Blue Mountain Community College (Ore.)
Gamel, a sophomore from Boise, Idaho, hit .416 with six home runs, 41 runs scored and 55 RBI. Gamel was selected to the NWAACC Eastern Division All-Star Team (first team) as the Eastern Division All-Stars posted a 1-1 record in the NWAACC All-Star Games. She will attend Oklahoma Panhandle State in the fall. Head Coach: Todd Bradley.
High School -- Kristin Gunter, Brenham High School (Texas)
Gunter, a senior from Brenham, Texas, earned All-America honors for the third consecutive year. She hit .462 with eight home runs and 54 RBI. Gunter, who will attend Texas A&M in the fall, finished the season with a 17-game hitting streak. Head Coach: Walt Mangan.