OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. --- The Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, announced today the three finalists for the fifth annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. An initial “Watch List” was released on February 1 and a list of 25 finalists was announced April 7. The top 10 finalists were announced on May 10 and now that list has been cut to the top three players.
The three finalists for the 2006 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, listed in alphabetical order, are:
Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.), Pitcher, University of Tennessee
Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, Calif.), Pitcher, University of Arizona
Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas), Pitcher, University of Texas
Click here for photos of the finalists
The lone junior in the top three, Tennessee’s Monica Abbott and the Volunteers knocked off the 2005 National Champion Michigan Wolverines in Super Regionals to advance to the WCWS for a second consecutive year. Abbott earned both wins for the Volunteers in the series, striking out 11 batters in each of her wins.
Click here for photos of the finalists.
This comes after the Volunteers earned its first ever SEC title with a 3-0 victory over LSU where Abbott gave up no runs and allowed only five hits. She is second in the nation with a record of 41-8 and posted a 0.88 ERA on the season. Only a junior, Abbott is currently fourth in the NCAA Division I career strikeout list with a 1,668 career strikeouts.
Abbott earned USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week honors for the week of March 13-19 after going 3-0 with a shutout and two consecutive no-hitters over Auburn.
Arizona’s Alicia Hollowell started out the first week of the 2006 season as the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week and ends the season as one of the three finalists for the USA Softball National Player of the Year after a stellar senior season. So far this season she has posted a 27-4 record with a 1.00 ERA to lead the Wildcats to a 49-10 record and a return trip to the NCAA Women’s College World Series.
In the first week of play, Hollowell became the Wildcat’s all-time leader in innings pitched with 887.2, surpassing former Wildcat Jennie Finch’s 876.2. In the final game of the Super Regional series against LSU, Hollowell struck out seven joining Osterman and Southern Mississippi alum Courtney Blades as one of only three pitchers in Div. I history to strike out 1,700 batters. On the season Hollowell gave up only 37 runs, second-best in the nation, in 209.1 innings pitched.
“She is very deserving. We are very excited that USA Softball is honoring her,” said Candrea. “She has had a great year and career and been a huge part of our success the past four years.”
“It’s a really big honor with all the amazing athletes that are playing softball this year. To be in the top three is a really big honor for me,” said Hollowell. “I have had a whole new approach and had fun doing it. I have wanted to go out this season and make some great memories since it’s my senior year.”
The two-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Cat Osterman is back in Oklahoma City looking to leave the University of Texas (54-7) with a National title. In her career she has led the Longhorns to three NCAA Women’s College World Series including a return trip in 2006 but has not finished higher than third. She has led the Longhorns to a 54-7 overall record this season. She has the nation’s lowest ERA at 0.39, a record of 37-2 and has shutout 27 of those opponents.
After a disappointing 0-2 outing at the Big 12 Championship, Osterman came back strong in the first game of the NCAA Regional by striking out 18 of 24 batters faced in the UT-San Antonio match up. Texas completed a 2-0 sweep of Washington in the Super Regional to earn their spot in the WCWS. On Friday, she tied her own school record for wins in a season (36) and set a new record on Saturday with her 37th win. With 11 strikeouts in the final game, Osterman moved to No. 4 in the NCAA record books for strikeouts in a single season with 590. She heads into the WCWS leading the nation in ERA, strikeouts, runs allowed (14) and hits (66).
“It’s an amazing honor and it’s nice to be respected by all the voters for this award,” said Osterman. “Obviously it’s an honor to be in the top three for a third time. I have remained consistent in my play. It’s great to be up there with a group of amazing pitchers that I have had the honor to play with during the summer. I know we are all capable and deserving.”
“I think it’s a tremendous honor for the University as well as for Cat. It’s great for her to be in the top three and be in the company of great pitchers such as Hollowell and Abbott. They are tremendous athletes,” said Clark. “I think it’s a testament to what she has done this year as well as her career. She has had a very consistent career.”
The winner of the 2006 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced May 31 during the opening ceremonies of the NCAA Women’s College World Series, and will be recognized and presented with the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year trophy during the ASA National Council Meeting in Colorado Springs, in November.
A replica of the award will be placed in a permanent display in the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, along with photos of the winner. An additional replica of the award will be presented to the player’s academic institution at a designated event in the fall.