Birmingham, Ala. - Former Southeastern Conference student-athletes Haley McCleney of Alabama and Taylor Ellis-Watson of Arkansas have been selected as one of the Top 30 honorees for the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
The NCAA Woman of the Year award honors graduating female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. This marks the 26th year of the Woman of the Year Award program, which was established in 1991.
McCleney is the Crimson Tide softball program's sixth four-time All-American, earning First Team honors in three of her four seasons. She completed her senior season in 2016 as Alabama's career leader in batting average (.447), on base percentage (.569), walks (199) and triples (16) while also ranking in the top five in stolen base percentage (2nd - .944), runs scored (2nd - 279), slugging percentage (3rd - .690), doubles (3rd - 57), total bases (3rd - 483), hits (4th - 313) and stolen bases (5th - 118). McCleney is just the fifth player in program history and the 21st in NCAA history to total 300 hits, 200 runs and 100 stolen bases. She is a four-time All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive team honoree.
McCleney is a three-time First Team Academic All-American and a two-time Academic All-American of the Year selection, just the third two-time winner since the yearly award was introduced in 1988. McCleney and former teammate Kayla Braud (2010-13) are the only players in program history to earn First Team honors as an All-American and Academic All-American in the same season. She was named the 2016 H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was the SEC's Softball Scholar-Athlete of the Year last year. In 2016, McCleney graduated with a 4.0 cumulative grade point average in exercise science and won the Senior CLASS Award, becoming the third Alabama student-athlete to do so.
Ellis-Watson is an 11-time All-American and a six-time NCAA Runner-up in the 400-meter dash and the 4x400 relay. This past season, she was named the 2016 SEC Indoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American. Ellis-Watson was also Arkansas' nominee for the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. In the Arkansas record books, she owns the best time in the outdoor 400-meter dash and as a member of the 4x400 relay team while ranking second in the indoor and outdoor 200-meter dash and the indoor 400-meter dash and fourth in the 100-meter dash. Ellis-Watson will be representing the United States at the Olympics this year as a part of the U.S. 4x400 relay team.
From the Top 30, nine finalists will be named (three from each NCAA division). The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will then select the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year from among the nine finalists. The winner will be announced at a ceremony on Sunday, October 16 in Indianapolis.