The 2017 Honda Sports Award, an honor given by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) annually to the nation's top collegiate female athlete in her sport, was awarded to Florida pitcher Kelly Barnhill after her stellar sophomore campaign.
Barnhill is just the third Florida softball player to earn the prestigious award, as Kelsey Bruder (2011) and Lauren Haeger (2015) are the other two Gators to receive the title. This year she joins fellow Gators Alex McMurtry (Gymnastics) and Belinda Woolcock (Tennis) as 2017 Honda Award recipients.
The award comes on the heels of a successful season for the Gators as the team secured their third-straight Southeastern Conference Championship and their fifth trip to the Women's College World Series championship series.
The Marietta, Ga., native accumulated a bevy of national accolades already this season as she was named 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, espnW Player of the Year , NFCA First Team All-American and CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American.
Barnhill was just .02 shy from the prestigious Elite 90 award, which is given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average represented at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 90 championships. LSU's Layna Savoie took home the award with a 3.95 GPA in psychology while Barnhill holds a 3.93 GPA in public relations.
· 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year
· 2017 espnW Player of the Year
· 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-American
· NFCA All-American First Team
· SEC Pitcher of the Year
· All-SEC 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 16 wins and 10 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)
· Produced 19 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), Florida State (21) and Oklahoma (13).
· 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 in 2017
· Threw four one-hitters in 2017: USF (2/12), Northwestern State (2/18), Long Beach State (3/2) and Oklahoma State (5/20).
Barnhill's announcement today puts the Florida Athletics program in rare company. Florida is the fourth program in the 41-year history of the award to have three recipients in a single season. The last program to have three sport winners was Arizona in 1997-98.
Programs with Three Honda Award Sport Winners in a Season
Kelly Barnhill, Florida (Softball)
Alex McMurtry, Florida (Gymnastics)
Belinda Woodcock, Florida (Tennis)
Nancy Evans, Arizona (Softball)
Amy Skieresz, Arizona (Cross Country)
Amy Skieresz, Arizona (Track & Field)
Jennifer Azzi, Stanford (Basketball)
Janet Evans, Stanford (Swimming)
Debbie Graham, Stanford (Tennis)
Ann Carr, Penn State (Gymnastics)
Kathy Mills, Penn State (Cross Country)
Kathy Mills, Penn State (Track & Field)
"What an honor! I'm so proud of Kelly and the work she has put in both on and off the field as well as in the classroom. Receiving this award is another testament to just how hard Kelly and the entire team worked this season." - Tim Walton
"I am so honored to receive the Honda Award. There were so many great performances by so many athletes in our sport this year and to be chosen is so amazing. I would not have been able to achieve what I did this season without the guidance and support of my teammates and coaches." - Kelly Barnhill
About the Honda Award
The Honda Sports Award is presented annually by the CWSA to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies "the best of the best in collegiate athletics". With this honor, Barnhill becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2017 Honda Cup, which will be presented on June 26 in a live nationally televised broadcast on CBS Sports Network at 6 pm PT/9 pm ET from Los Angeles, Calif.
The honor is based on the results of national balloting among all NCAA member schools as part of The Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 41st year. The other finalists were Megan Good of James Madison, Sarah Groenewegen of Minnesota and DJ Sanders of Louisiana - Lafayette.
In honor of Barnhill winning the award, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., will donate $5,000 to the women's athletic program at the University of Florida.
A Gator has been recognized as a Honda Sports winner 22 times across six different sports. Gator Great and U.S. Olympic gold medalist swimmer Tracy Caulkins is the only Gator to win the Broderick Cup (renamed Honda Award in 1987), earning the top award in 1982 and 1984. Lauren Haeger was among the final three for the 2015 Honda Cup.