After a stellar season as one of the most prolific pitchers in all of NCAA women’s softball, sophomore Kelly Barnhill of the University of Florida has been named the 2017 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year.
Barnhill was named 2017 Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year after leading the nation with a 0.35 ERA. Her stellar play earned her a 23-3 record on the back of 310 strikeouts and only eight runs allowed through regional play. She earned SEC Pitcher of the Week five times this season, throwing four no-hitters and 14 wins against Top-25 opponents. In just her sophomore season, she earned First-Team All-SEC and NFCA First Team All-Region honors, leading Florida to the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Softball Championship.
Barnhill dazzled in the Gators’ Super Regional matchup against Alabama, pitching seven innings of one-run ball en route to a victory that sent the Gators to their eighth Women’s College World Series. They will look to take back the title they won in 2015.
A member of the U.S. women's national softball team since 2016, Barnhill pitched to a 0.00 ERA in five innings at the World Cup of Softball, earning a silver medal, and won gold at the WBSC Women's World Championship.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, recognizes the outstanding athletic achievement by Division I female players. Now in its 16th year, past recipients include Olympic medalists Stacey Nuveman (2002), Cat Osterman (2003, ’05, ’06) and Monica Abbott (2007). The award is voted on by coaching representatives of 10 Division I Conferences in the 10 USA Softball Regions, members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball and past winners of the award.
The other two finalists for the 2017 award were Megan Good of James Madison University and Meghan Gregg of the University of Tennessee.
The trophy itself has received a facelift this year, as it has been redesigned to resemble Lisa Fernandez. Fernandez is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and set an Olympic softball record with 21 strikeouts in a single game. She played at UCLA from 1990 to 1993, becoming a four-time First-Team All American and leading the Bruins to two national titles and two runner-up finishes.