Two members of the No. 1 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team, senior pitcher Monica Abbott and senior outfielder/shortstop Lindsay Schutzler, have made the cut as two of 11 remaining finalists for the prestigious USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award according to a Wednesday release from the Amateur Softball Association (ASA), the national governing body of softball in the United States.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, in its sixth year, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by NCAA Division I collegiate softball players across the country.
The final list of 11 candidates will be trimmed to three on May 23 with those final players traveling to Oklahoma City, Okla., for the announcement of the winner at the 2007 NCAA Women's College World Series. A replica of the award will be placed on permanent display in the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, along with photos of the winner. An additional replica of the award will be presented to the player's academic institution at a sporting event in the fall.
The NCAA Division I career leader in wins, shutouts, games played and strikeouts as well as a four-time All-SEC selection and three-time SEC Pitcher of the Year, Abbott is currently registering a K-per-seven inning ratio of 14.6 to remain well above her career average of 11.7. The 6-3 lefthander currently guides the SEC in ERA (0.65), strikeouts (560), solo shutouts (21), starts (38), complete games (33) and opposing batting average (.102). Abbott registered the fourth-longest shutout streak of all-time at 96.1 frames from Feb. 10-March 11, 2007, and has also struck out the side a staggering 101 times this year. Abbott is currently listed among the NCAA Division I career top four in starts (192 -- second), complete games (166 - second) and innings pitched (1,358.2 - third). She made history this past weekend against then-No. 1 Alabama with a first-inning punch out against freshman Charlotte Morgan during a 9-2 win to break former Texas hurler Cat Osterman's career strikeout record with K number 2,266. Abbott is the only pitcher in history to strikeout 500 or more during all four years of her collegiate career and at 40-2 in 2007 has gone over 40 triumphs during each campaign of her time spent in the Orange & White.
A two-time Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American and one of only 12 players in NCAA Division I history to register 300 hits, 200 runs scored and 100 stolen bases in her playing career, Schutzler picked up her third overall All-SEC selection and second straight first-team choice on Wednesday in Auburn, Ala. The Monterey, Calif., native's name is prominent among the current SEC league stats at fourth in the conference in batting average at .406, second in triples (5 - tied), fourth in RBI (49 - tied), fifth in on-base percentage (.473) and runs scored (46 - tied) and sixth in stolen bases with 33. The senior center fielder leads the UT record books in career hits (344), runs (231), stolen bases (114), total bases (463) and triples (20) while rating fourth overall in Lady Vol career batting average (.385) and on-base percentage (.447) and sixth in RBI (152). Schutzler is also one of 20 finalists for the inaugural Senior CLASS trophy that is awarded based on a combination of leadership, community service and softball ability.
The top seeded Lady Vols will open defense of their 2006 SEC Tournament title on Thursday, May 10, in Auburn, Ala., by facing eighth seeded Ole Miss at 8:30 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com.
The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM, through utladyvols.com via Yahoo Sports) will broadcast UT's run through the event live with the "Voice of the Lady Vols" Mickey Dearstone on the call.
Top 11 Finalists listed in alphabetical order are:
Monica Abbott (Tennessee) - Senior - Pitcher - Salinas, Calif.
Katie Burkhart (Arizona State) - Junior - Pitcher - San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Kaitlin Cochran (Arizona State) - Sophomore - Outfielder - Yorba Linda, Calif.
Norrelle Dickson (Oklahoma) - Senior - Third Base - Orange, Calif.
Caitlin Lever (Georgia Tech) - Senior - Outfielder - Amherst, NY
Caitlin Lowe (Arizona) - Senior - Outfielder - Tustin, Calif.
Samantha Ricketts (Oklahoma) - Sophomore - First Base - San Jose, Calif.
Jenn Salling (Oregon) - Freshman - Shortstop - Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Amanda Scarborough (Texas A&M) - Junior - Pitcher/First Base - Magnolia, Texas
Lindsay Schutzler (Tennessee) - Senior - Outfielder - Monterey, Calif.
Angela Tincher (Virginia Tech) - Junior - Pitcher - Eagle Rock, Va.
Story Courtesy: UT Lady Vols Sports Information