Top 50 Watch List announced for 2012 Collegiate Season

OKLAHOMA CITY — Stanford senior Ashley Hansen, the 2011 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, and 49 other student-athletes have been selected for the “Watch List” for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced today. Now in its 11th year, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, given by the National Governing Body for softball in the United States, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.

Previous recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the most prestigious individual honor in NCAA Division I Softball, are UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman (2002), Texas pitcher Cat Osterman (2003, 2005 and 2006), Florida State pitcher Jessica Van der Linden (2004), Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott (2007), Virginia Tech pitcher Angela Tincher (2008), Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie (2009 and 2010) and shortstop Hansen (2011). Arizona State shortstop Katelyn Boyd, now a senior, and Missouri pitcher Chelsea Thomas, currently a redshirt junior, were the other two finalists for last year’s award.

The pre-season “Watch List” includes 22 seniors, 20 juniors and eight sophomores, with freshman ineligible for consideration. (Freshman can be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award once they have competed at the collegiate level.) Athletes named to the “Watch List” represent 31 NCAA Division I universities and 13 athletic conferences. While Cal, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas lead the way among universities with three athlete representatives each, the Big 12 Conference and the Pacific-12 (Pac-12) Conference have six member schools represented.

The Top 25 Finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 11. While an athlete does not have to be on the “Watch List” to be considered for the Top 25, the eventual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will come from the Top 25 Finalists. The Top 10 Finalists will be announced May 9 and the Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 23. On May 29 prior to the start of the 2012 NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City, the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed.

2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List 

Name (School) – Year – Position – Hometown
Emily Allard (Northwestern) – Junior – Shortstop – Antioch, Calif.
Valerie Arioto (Cal) – Senior – Utility – Pleasanton, Calif.
Nikki Armagost (Pacific) – Junior – Pitcher/Utility – Andover, Kan.
Lexy Bennett (Texas) – Senior – Infield – Kingwood, Texas
Emily Bledsoe (Texas Tech) – Senior – Infield – Fulshear, Texas
Katelyn Boyd (Arizona State) – Senior – Shortstop – Phoenix, Ariz.
Kayla Braud (Alabama) – Junior – Outfield – Eugene, Ore.
Devon Bridges (Boise State) – Sophomore – Outfield/First base – Danville, Calif.
Jenna Caira (Syracuse) – Senior – Pitcher – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Whitney Canion (Baylor) – Junior – Pitcher – Aledo, Texas
Raven Chavanne (Tennessee) – Junior – Third base/Outfield – Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Amanda Chidester (Michigan) – Senior – Third base – Allen Park, Mich.
Aimee Creger (Tulsa) – Sophomore – Pitcher – Yukon, Okla.
Brigette Del Ponte (Arizona) – Junior – Infield – Peoria, Ariz.
Taylor Edwards (Nebraska) – Sophomore – Catcher – Murrieta, Calif.
Dallas Escobedo (Arizona State) – Sophomore – Pitcher – Glendale, Ariz.
Bree Evans (Michigan) – Senior – Centerfield – Bloomington, Calif.
Ashley Fleming (Missouri) – Senior – Outfield – Silex, Mo.
Kenzie Fowler (Arizona) – Junior – Pitcher – Tucson, Ariz.
Kellie Fox (UCLA) – Sophomore – Shortstop – San Diego, Calif.
Olivia Galati (Hofstra) – Junior – Pitcher/Designated player – West Babylon, N.Y.
Lauren Gibson (Tennessee) – Junior – Infield– Pasadena, Md.
Ashley Hansen (Stanford) – Senior – Infield – Chandler, Ariz.
Andrea Harrison (UCLA) – Senior – Left field/First base – Garden Grove, Calif.
Jolene Henderson (Cal) – Junior – Pitcher/First base – Elk Grove, Calif.
Taylor Hoagland (Texas) – Junior – Outfield/Third base – Flower Mound, Texas
Jessica Iwata (Hawaii) – Junior – Shortstop – Lihu’e, Hawaii
Ashley Lane (Michigan) – Junior – Second base – Escondido, Calif.
Blaire Luna (Texas) – Junior – Pitcher – Austin, Texas
Meagan May (Texas A&M) – Junior – Catcher/First base – Spring, Texas
Ashley McClain (FIU) – Senior – Outfielder/Pitcher – Brandon, Fla.
Dani Miller (Notre Dame) – Senior – Infield – Huntington Beach, Calif.
Jen Mineau (Fordham) – Senior – Pitcher – Schaghticoke, N.Y.
Adrienne Monka (Northwestern) – Senior – First base – Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Michelle Moultrie (Florida) – Senior – Center field – Jacksonville, Fla.
Christi Orgeron (ULL) – Senior – Outfield – New Orleans, La.
Sara Plourde (UMass) – Senior – Pitcher – Bristol, Conn.
Kimi Pohlman (Washington) – Senior – Outfield – Sammamish, Wash.
Jamia Reid (Cal) – Senior – Outfield – Buena Park, Calif.
Ellen Renfroe (Tennessee) – Sophomore – Pitcher – Jackson, Tenn.
Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma) – Junior – Pitcher – San Jose, Calif.
Rachel Riley (Kentucky) – Senior – Pitcher/Designated player – Bowling Green, Ky.
Hannah Rogers (Florida) – Sophomore – Pitcher – Lake Wales, Fla.
Brittany Schutte (Florida) – Junior – Catcher – Fountain Valley, Calif.
Kathy Shelton (Baylor) – Junior – Outfielder – McKinney, Texas
Jessica Shults (Oklahoma) – Junior – Catcher – Valencia, Calif.
Chelsea Thomas (Missouri) – Redshirt Junior – Pitcher – Pleasantville, Iowa
Jackie Traina (Alabama) – Sophomore – Pitcher/Designated player – Naples, Fla.
Kelsi Weseman (Georgia Tech) – Senior – Shortstop - Hutto, Texas
Niki Williams (Washington) – Senior – Utility – Mission Viejo, Calif.

In addition to bestowing the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, ASA/USA Softball is now in its 10th season of presenting the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll and the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week, which are announced Tuesdays during the regular season. The pre-season ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll was released Jan. 24 with Arizona State, Alabama, California, Florida and Missouri taking the Top 5 spots. The final poll of the season to be released on June 12 following the WCWS.

About ASA 
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 210,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/

About USA Softball 
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles including the last seven consecutive as well as claimed five World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.