OKLAHOMA CITY – USA Softball has officially unveiled the Top 50 Watch List for the 2023 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. With sights set on the highly anticipated NCAA collegiate softball season, the prestigious award will look to recognize a Collegiate Player of the Year based on outstanding play throughout the entire NCAA Division I collegiate softball season.
The Top 50 Watch List highlights athletes from 26 universities and nine athletic conferences from across the country with Oklahoma leading the universities in recognition as eight Sooners join the list followed by Arkansas, Florida and UCLA with three athletes apiece. Additionally, ten universities tabbed two athletes to the list while 12 collegiate programs are highlighted with one. Among the 50 athletes and returning to the spotlight of the prestigious award is 2022 Top 3 Finalist Baylee Klingler (Washington) as well as 2022 Top 10 Finalists Jordy Bahl (Oklahoma), Grace Lyons (Oklahoma), Kelly Maxwell (Oklahoma State), Sydney McKinney (Wichita State) and Danielle Williams (Northwestern).
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) leads the athletic conferences with 18 athletes included followed by the Big 12 Conference with 11, Pac-12 Conference with seven and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with six. Also represented is the American Athletic Conference (AAC) with three athletes and the Big Ten Conference with two while the Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference each showcase one athlete apiece.
Below are additional announcement dates for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year:
Top 25 Finalists: April 19
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
Top 10 Finalists: May 3
Top 3 Finalists: May 17
Player of the Year: Announced prior to the NCAA Women's College World Series.
Recognized as the most distinguished individual honor in NCAA Division I Softball, previous recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award include Stacey Nuveman (UCLA - 2002), Cat Osterman (2003, 2005, 2006 - Texas), Jessica Van der Linden (Florida State - 2004), Monica Abbott (2007 - Tennessee), Angela Tincher (2008 - Virginia Tech), Danielle Lawrie (2009, 2010 - Washington), Ashley Hansen (Stanford – 2011), Keilani Ricketts (2012, 2013 – Oklahoma), Lacey Waldrop (2014 – Florida State), Lauren Haeger (2015 – Florida), Sierra Romero (2016 – Michigan), Kelly Barnhill (2017 – Florida), Rachel Garcia (2018, 2019 – UCLA) and Jocelyn Alo (2021, 2022 – Oklahoma). Due to the shortened 2020 season because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, a 2020 recipient was not chosen.
In addition to crowning the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, USA Softball is now in its 21st season of presenting the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll which is announced on Tuesdays during the regular season. The 2023 Preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll was released Jan. 24 with Oklahoma, UCLA, Oklahoma State, Florida State and Florida ranking in the Top 5 respectively.
Follow along with NCAA Softball all season long at USASoftball.com.