OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Sophomore pitcher Kelly Barnhill became only the second Florida softball player and second sophomore ever to earn the title of USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. The Amateur Softball Association of American (ASA) presented the award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's softball, during the team celebration held at the OKC Farmer's Market.
"It's really amazing to be chosen for this award as just a sophomore," said Barnhill. "There are so many amazing players out there and to be chosen at such a young age is really a special accomplishment."
Barnhill and former Gator standout Lauren Haeger are now the only two Florida players to have earned the title of USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Also, she is the fourth Gator to win a player of the year award this season, as she joins Alex McMurty (gymnastics), Caeleb Dressel (men's swimming) and KeAndre Bates (men's track & field).
The Marietta, Ga. native has had a stellar sophomore campaign for the Gators. She currently leads the nation in ERA (0.36), hits allowed per seven innings (2.74) and strikeouts per seven innings (13.4) while also ranking third in shutouts (12) and sixth overall in total strikeouts (333). The 333 strikeouts are the third most in a single season by a Gators pitcher - only trails Stacey Nelson's (357 - 2009 & 363 - 2008).
With the success in the circle this season, the awards have followed along the way with more potentially still to come.
"I'm just really proud of Kelly and the season she has had," stated head coach Tim Walton. "We started off the year talking about how having a better team leads to the opportunity of potentially winning more individual accolades. Kelly winning this award is an accomplishment for everyone on our team. We have a lot of pride and a great work ethic but I'm just so proud of Kelly embracing her roll head on and working really hard."
- USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year
- 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-American
- SEC Pitcher of the Year
- All-SEC First Team
- NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team
- SEC Pitcher of the Week - 5x (2/20, 4/11, 4/18, 4/25, 5/2)
- USA Softball Co-Player of the Week - (4/18)
- Louisville Slugger/NFCA Pitcher of the Week - (4/18)
- ESPNW Player of the Week - (4/18)
Barnhill 2017 Top Performances & Highlights
- Pitched her second career no-hitter against Kentucky (4/16/17)
- Has 14 wins and nine shutouts over Top 25 opponents this season.
- Entered in the sixth inning of a scoreless game against then No. 1-ranked Florida State (4/12) and struck out three to shut the door on a 1-0 victory.
- Recorded the two longest scoreless inning streaks (45.2 & 51.0) by any current pitcher on staff this season.
- Pitched a program single game record 10.1 innings and 21 strikeouts (10 looking) against Florida State (5/3/2017)
- Produced 18 games with 10 or more strikeouts and handed opponent season-highs to notable programs such as: Auburn (16), Georgia (14), Kentucky 2x (15), Ole Miss (16), Tennessee (12) and Florida State (21)
- First pitcher in Florida history to have earned five SEC Pitcher of the Week awards in the same season
- Struck out the side 48 times over 22 games this season
- Has thrown four one-hitters this season. USF (2/12), Northwestern State (2/18), Long Beach State (3/2) and Oklahoma State (5/20).
- Has only allowed opponents to reach third base in 17 innings out of the 173.2 innings pitched this season.
Barnhill and the Gators will gear up to face SEC foe Texas A&M in the opening game of the 2017 Women's College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City at noon ET on ESPN Thursday, June 1.