On Wednesday the Top 50 “Watch List” for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year was unveiled. Coming as no surprise to Tiger fans, two players from our squad made the list. Senior outfielder, Ashley Fleming and redshirt junior pitcher Chelsea Thomas.
Last season Fleming stood out as one of the leaders on a very talented Tiger team. She was selected as a Second Team All-American after leading the team in all offensive categories: batting average .356, doubles 16, home runs 14, runs batted in 62, slugging percentage .701, and on-base percentage .452.
For Thomas, being on the “Watch List” is a little bitter sweet after coming so close to winning the 2011 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. She however was beat out by the Stanford junior Ashley Hansen. Thomas lead the nation in earned run average with a .95. She went 32-8 with 31 complete games in the circle. She pitched 13 shutouts, threw 397 strikeouts, and handed out only 53 walks through 271.1 innings pitched last season. Against her, opponents posted a batting average of just .155. Along with being a Player of the Year Finalist, Thomas was also a First Team All-American, and made the Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team.
Fleming and Thomas are both now in the running for National Player of the Year honors. The “Watch Lists” consists of 23 seniors, 20 juniors, and only seven sophomores. The Top 25 finalists will be announced on April 11th. An athlete does not have to be on the “Watch List” to be considered for the Top 25 but the eventual winner will come from the Top 25.
The Top 10 Finalists will then be announced on May 9th and and the Top 3 will be announced May 23. The winner of National Player of the Year will be awarded May 29th prior to the start of the 2012 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.