OKLAHOMA CITY — USA Softball, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, announced the remaining finalists for the 2018 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, recognizes the outstanding athletic achievement by Division I female players across the country.
Back-to-back Southeastern Conference (SEC) Pitcher of the Year, Kelly Barnhill ranks in the Top 10 in the nation with a 0.98 ERA, 300 strikeouts, 11 shutouts and a 28-1 record through Regional play. The reigning USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Barnhill has racked up two First-Team All-SEC honors and will look to lead the No. 2 seed Florida Gators in their Super Regional against No. 15 seed Texas A&M.
The 2018 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Rachel Garcia leads the UCLA Bruins pitching staff with a 25-3 record and 255 strikeouts. A dual-threat, Garcia also boasts a .357 batting average with 51 RBI through Regional play. Garcia, who was just announced as the espnW National Player of the Year, and the No. 3 seed UCLA Bruins will attempt to secure their bid to the NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) this weekend against No. 14 seed Arizona in their Super Regional matchup.
Joining her fellow Florida Gator teammate on the list of Finalists is the reigning SEC Player of the Year Amanda Lorenz. Producing a .418 batting average, Lorenz ranks in the Top 5 in the nation with a .575 on-base percentage, an average of 1.11 runs per game and 61 walks through Regional play. Named the 2018 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player, Lorenz leads the Gators with 19 multi-hit games and has also tallied 16 multi-RBI games this season.
A three-time All-American, Paige Parker ranks in the Top 10 in the nation amongst pitchers with a 0.89 ERA and 28-2 record through Regional play. Limiting opponents to a .154 batting average, Parker is only one-of-two pitchers to earn Big 12 Pitcher of the Year four times in her career. Parker and her No. 4 seeded Oklahoma Sooners will look to punch their ticket to the NCAA WCWS and defend their back-to-back National Championship titles as they host No. 13 seed Arkansas for Super Regional action.
The winner of the 2018 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced on May 29 at the team-only banquet just prior to the start of the NCAA WCWS.
Now in its 17th year, previous recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award are Stacey Nuveman (2002 - UCLA), Cat Osterman (2003, 2005 and 2006 - Texas), Jessica Van der Linden (2004 – Florida State), Monica Abbott (2007 - Tennessee), Angela Tincher (2008 – Virginia Tech), Danielle Lawrie (2009 and 2010 - Washington), Ashley Hansen (2011 - Stanford), Keilani Ricketts (2012 and 2013 - Oklahoma), Lacey Waldrop (2014 – Florida State), Lauren Haeger (2015 - Florida), Sierra Romero (2016 - Michigan) and Kelly Barnhill (2017 - Florida).
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives of 11 Division I Conferences in the 10 USA Softball Regions, members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country as well as past winners of the award.
-- Courtesy of USA Softball