April 21, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” University of Notre Dame freshman outfielder/infielder Ali Wester has been selected as one of the top 25 finalists for the 2016 Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I National Freshman of the Year award, the NFCA announced on Thursday.
In its third season of existence, the NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award was created to recognize the outstanding athletic accomplishments of freshmen softball student-athletes from Division I institutions.
On May 12, the initial finalist list will be trimmed down to the top 10 finalists, while the top three finalists will be selected and released on May 25. The Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy will be presented during a live ceremony on May 31 prior to the opening of the annual Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Wester is the second Notre Dame player to be a finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award since its inception in 2014, joining sister and current Notre Dame junior co-captain Karley Wester. The elder Wester was a top three finalist for the inaugural national freshman of the year award in 2014.
Ali Wester ranks second on the Notre Dame roster and fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a .412 batting average as a primary slap hitter in her first 40 career starts, adding the second-most hits (54) and eighth-most runs scored (38) and stolen bases (17) in the conference. Wester also leads all ACC players with 17 sacrifice bunts thus far in 2016.
The Huntington Beach, California native has been equally successful in her first 12 ACC conference games, batting .351 with five stolen bases and nine runs scored. Wester’s 16 overall multiple-hit games rank second among all Notre Dame hitters, and her eight mult-RBI games are the fourth-most by an Irish player this season.
A total of 50 of Wester’s hits as of April 21 were credited as singles, with 28 of those singles officially recorded as infield hits. Wester has also chipped in 59 putouts and 42 assists splitting time between second base and left field.
Wester has enjoyed some of her best offensive performances during her freshman campaign against fellow NFCA top 25 foes. The versatile Notre Dame rookie is batting .407 with six RBI, five stolen bases and eight runs scored in seven games against nationally ranked opponents this season.
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
2016 Schutt Sports/NFCA DI National Freshman of the Year Top 25 Finalists
Kelly Barnhill (Florida) | Pitcher
Ashley Diaz (Arkansas) | First Base
Ebonee Echols (Michigan State) | SS/2B (DP/OF)
Taty Forbes (Coastal Carolina) | Outfield
Sydney Golden (Cal State Fullerton) | Pitcher
Carsyn Gordon (Florida State) | OF/IF
Megan Hensley (Louisville) | P/OF/DP
Jessica Hughes (Fordham) | Second Base
Kelsey Horton (New Mexico State) | First Base
Shay Knighten (Oklahoma) | Infield
Amanda Lorenz (Florida) | Outfield
Hailey Lunderman (Ole Miss) | Shortstop
Taylor Lynch (Oklahoma State) | Third Base
Maggie MacBeth (Butler) | Second Base
Makayla Martin (Auburn) | Pitcher
Keeli Milligan (Texas A&M) | IF/OF
Meehra Nelson (Oregon State) | Pitcher
Hayley Norton (Saint Francis) | Outfield
Claire Oberdorf (Marist) | 2B/C
Sydney Romero (Oklahoma) | IF
Samantha Show (Texas A&M) | Pitcher
Sydney Smith (LSU) | Pitcher
Brooke Vines (Tennessee) | OF
Kyla Walker (Baylor) | DP/RF
Ali Wester (Notre Dame) | OF/IF
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.