OKLAHOMA CITY – Senior captain Rachel Riley was selected as one of the 50 players for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year “Watch List” it was announced Wednesday. This marks the first such honor of the Bowling Green, Ky., native’s career, and a first for the UK program since Molly Johnson was a member of the prestigious list in 2010.
“It’s really cool to see individuals outside the program start to notice what a major contributor Riley has been to softball over the past three seasons,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “And, I consider it quite an honor for her and the program that she is being mentioned among such an outstanding list of athletes.”
Now in its 11th year, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, given by the National Governing Body for softball in the United States, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.
The pre-season “Watch List” includes 23 seniors, 20 juniors and seven 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 31 NCAA Division I universities and 13 athletic conferences.
Riley is a top-flight pitcher and one of the most threatening returning offensive weapons to the 2012 Wildcat squad. The senior owns more than 30 pitching victories in three seasons and as a junior batted .354 with 13 extra base hits and 28 RBI.
The Top 25 Finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 11. 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 9 and the Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 23. On May 29 prior to the start of the 2012 NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City, the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed.
Earlier this week Riley was named to the preseason All-Southeastern Conference squad as selected by the league’s coaches. She was a 2011 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Southeast Region first team selection as a utility player after engineering her most explosive season in the Blue and White in helping lead UK to a school-best 40 victories and a Super Regional appearance.
Follow along with the UK softball program all season long at UKathletics.com.
2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List
Name (School) – Year – Position – Hometown
Emily Allard (Northwestern) – Junior – Shortstop – Antioch, Calif.
Valerie Arioto (Cal) – Senior – Utility – Pleasanton, Calif.
Nikki Armagost (Pacific) – Junior – Pitcher/Utility – Andover, Kan.
Lexy Bennett (Texas) – Senior – Infield – Kingwood, Texas
Emily Bledsoe (Texas Tech) – Senior – Infield – Fulshear, Texas
Katelyn Boyd (Arizona State) – Senior – Shortstop – Phoenix, Ariz.
Kayla Braud (Alabama) – Junior – Outfield – Eugene, Ore.
Devon Bridges (Boise State) – Sophomore – Outfield/First base – Danville, Calif.
Jenna Caira (Syracuse) – Senior – Pitcher – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Whitney Canion (Baylor) – Junior – Pitcher – Aledo, Texas
Raven Chavanne (Tennessee) – Junior – Third base/Outfield – Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Amanda Chidester (Michigan) – Senior – Third base – Allen Park, Mich.
Aimee Creger (Tulsa) – Sophomore – Pitcher – Yukon, Okla.
Brigette Del Ponte (Arizona) – Junior – Infield – Peoria, Ariz.
Taylor Edwards (Nebraska) – Sophomore – Catcher – Murrieta, Calif.
Dallas Escobedo (Arizona State) – Sophomore – Pitcher – Glendale, Ariz.
Bree Evans (Michigan) – Senior – Centerfield – Bloomington, Calif.
Ashley Fleming (Missouri) – Senior – Outfield – Silex, Mo.
Kenzie Fowler (Arizona) – Junior – Pitcher – Tucson, Ariz.
Kellie Fox (UCLA) – Sophomore – Shortstop – San Diego, Calif.
Olivia Galati (Hofstra) – Junior – Pitcher/Designated player – West Babylon, N.Y.
Lauren Gibson (Tennessee) – Junior – Infield– Pasadena, Md.
Ashley Hansen (Stanford) – Senior – Infield – Chandler, Ariz.
Andrea Harrison (UCLA) – Senior – Left field/First base – Garden Grove, Calif.
Jolene Henderson (Cal) – Junior – Pitcher/First base – Elk Grove, Calif.
Taylor Hoagland (Texas) – Junior – Outfield/Third base – Flower Mound, Texas
Jessica Iwata (Hawaii) – Junior – Shortstop – Lihu’e, Hawaii
Ashley Lane (Michigan) – Junior – Second base – Escondido, Calif.
Blaire Luna (Texas) – Junior – Pitcher – Austin, Texas
Meagan May (Texas A&M) – Junior – Catcher/First base – Spring, Texas
Ashley McClain (FIU) – Senior – Outfield/Pitcher – Brandon, Fla.
Dani Miller (Notre Dame) – Senior – Infield – Huntington Beach, Calif.
Jen Mineau (Fordham) – Senior – Pitcher – Schaghticoke, N.Y.
Adrienne Monka (Northwestern) – Senior – First base – Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Michelle Moultrie (Florida) – Senior – Center field – Jacksonville, Fla.
Christi Orgeron (ULL) – Senior – Outfield – New Orleans, La.
Sara Plourde (UMass) – Senior – Pitcher – Bristol, Conn.
Kimi Pohlman (Washington) – Senior – Outfield – Sammamish, Wash.
Jamia Reid (Cal) – Senior – Outfield – Buena Park, Calif.
Ellen Renfroe (Tennessee) – Sophomore – Pitcher – Jackson, Tenn.
Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma) – Junior – Pitcher – San Jose, Calif.
Rachel Riley (Kentucky) – Senior – Pitcher/Designated player – Bowling Green, Ky.
Hannah Rogers (Florida) – Senior – Pitcher – Lake Wales, Fla.
Brittany Schutte (Florida) – Junior – Catcher – Fountain Valley, Calif.
Kathy Shelton (Baylor) – Junior – Outfield – McKinney, Texas
Jessica Shults (Oklahoma) – Junior – Catcher – Valencia, Calif.
Chelsea Thomas (Missouri) – Redshirt Junior – Pitcher – Pleasantville, Iowa
Jackie Traina (Alabama) – Sophomore – Pitcher/Designated player – Naples, Fla.
Kelsi Weseman (Georgia Tech) – Senior – Shortstop - Hutto, Texas
Niki Williams (Washington) – Senior – Utility – Mission Viejo, Calif.