Fifteen SEC student-athletes from eight member institutions are among the 50 that have been selected for the "Watch List" for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, announced by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball.
The representatives from around the SEC include: Haylie McCleney and Alexis Osorio, Alabama; Emily Carosone and Kasey Cooper, Auburn; Aubree Munro and Kelsey Stewart, Florida; Cortni Emanuel, Alex Hugo and Chelsea Wilkinson, Georgia; Bianka Bell, Carly Hoover and Bailey Landry, LSU; Emily Crane, Missouri; Alaynie Page, South Carolina; and Rainey Gaffin, Tennessee.
Now in its 15th year, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, awarded by the National Governing Body for Softball in the United States, recognizes outstanding athletic achievement by Division I female collegiate softball players across the country.
Previous SEC recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the most prestigious individual honor in NCAA Division I Softball, are Tennessee's Monica Abbott (2007) and Florida's Lauren Haeger (2015).
The pre-season "Watch List" includes 25 seniors, 15 juniors and 10 sophomores, with freshman ineligible for consideration. (Freshman can be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award once they have competed at the collegiate level). Athletes named to the "Watch List" represent 35 NCAA Division I universities and 15 athletic conferences. Georgia, LSU and Michigan lead the way among universities with three athlete representatives each, while Alabama, Auburn, California, Florida, James Madison, Louisiana-Lafayette, Oklahoma, Oregon and UCLA have two athletes on the "Watch List" apiece.
The Top 25 Finalists for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 13. 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. The Top 10 Finalists will be announced May 11 and the Top 3 announced May 25. The 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 31.
In addition to bestowing the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, ASA/USA Softball is now in its 14th season of presenting the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll and the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week, which are announced Tuesdays during the regular season. The pre-season ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll was released Jan. 26 with Florida, Michigan, LSU, Oregon and Alabama taking the Top 5 spots, respectively