OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – On a beautiful Tuesday evening at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., Tennessee senior pitcher Monica Abbott made history by receiving the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award, the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy for NCAA Division I softball. The Salinas, Calif., native has racked up a 46-3 record this season with 649 strikeouts in 314.1 innings of work while helping UT to its first No. 1 ranking, the Southeastern Conference regular-season title and the Women’s College World Series for the third straight season.
The USA Softball National 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. 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 Monica Abbott. An additional replica of the award will be presented to the University of Tennessee at a sporting event in the fall.
The 6-3 lefthander currently guides the Southeastern Conference in ERA (0.60), solo shutouts (24), starts (43), complete games (37) and opposing batting average (.102), and leads the nation in strikeouts (649). The NCAA Division I all-time 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 14.5 which is well above her career average of 11.7.
Abbott is the only pitcher in history to strikeout 500 or more during all four years of her collegiate career and 600 or more twice. With 46 wins this year, Abbott has gone over 40 triumphs during each of her four years seasons spent in the Orange & White. With 649 K’s, she is just 14 strikeouts from equaling the NCAA Division I single-season K mark currently held by former Southern Miss hurler Courtney Blades of 663 K’s set in 2000.
No. 1 Tennessee (59-6) will open its road at the Women’s College World Series against No. 7 Texas A&M at 7 p.m. ET, on Thursday, May 31, a the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. The match-up will be broadcast live on the ESPN national television network in high definition as well as on radio with the “Voice of the Lady Vols” Mickey Dearstone doing play-by-play on The Sports Animal at 99.1 or 99.3 FM or 990 AM (Yahoo Sports via utladyvols.com).