Feb. 6, 2004
The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and USA Softball have announced their initial watch list for the third-annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Notre Dame junior Megan Ciolli (Terre Haute, Ind.) was one of the 40 players to make the list.
Ciolli will embrace a new role as team leader for the Irish this season, which begins next weekend (Feb. 13) at the UNLV Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. The Irish have radically shifted from a senior laden team to one of the youngest squads in the Midwest.
A starter since she arrived on campus three years ago, Ciolli boasts a .350 career average – hitting either first or second in the Irish line up. A three-tool player able to bunt, slap and hit for power, the junior boasts 131 hits in her career, eight home runs and 48 RBI. She also has stolen 23 bases in her career and her .350 career average puts her in the top five all-time at Notre Dame.
Last season, Ciolli hit .356 with four home runs, 24 RBI and a career-best 12 stolen bases. She will return as the starting centerfielder for the Irish in 2004 and has contributed five assists from the outfield during her career.
Ciolli is one of the leaders from a junior class that will be asked to step into starring roles for Notre Dame in 2004. The Irish lost most of their infield to graduation last season and will have new starting players at third base, shortstop, second base and first base.
The Notre Dame 2004 schedule will not provide much leeway in the team’s development over the first month. At the UNLV Classic alone, the Irish will face #2 California and #8 Nebraska during the three-day tournament. Notre Dame is also set to face the U.S. Olympic Team, #12 Stanford, #25 Tennessee, #10 Georgia and #16 CS Fullerton over the first three weekends of the season.