Feb. 3, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For the second consecutive year, University of Notre Dame junior co-captain and 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American Karley Wester has been added to the “Watch List” for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced on Wednesday.
Entering its 15th season, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, awarded by the National Governing Body for Softball in the United States, recognizes outstanding athletic achievement by Division I female collegiate softball players across the country.
Notre Dame has now seen at least one player selected to the top 50 preseason watch list for the national player of the year award in each of the last five seasons. NFCA All-Americans Dani Miller (2012) and Amy Buntin (2013), three-time NFCA All-American Emilee Koerner (2014 and 2015), and four-time NFCA all-region choice Laura Winter (2014) joined Wester (2015) in previously earning the distinction.
A pair of Irish players have been tabbed as finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year twice since 2013. As a sophomore that season, Koerner became Notre Dame’s first top 10 selection for the award in program history, while Wester finished as a top 26 player of the year finalist in 2015.
A native of Huntington Beach, California, Wester assumes a Notre Dame captaincy role in 2016 after putting together what is arguably the best two-year stretch to open a career in Irish history. She has batted a program best .441 with 165 hits, 60 RBI, 52 stolen bases and 115 runs scored in her first 111 games (110 starts). Wester led the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in batting average in each of her first two seasons, most recently batting .429 while tying Notre Dame single-season records for hits (84) and runs scored (65) as a sophomore in 2015.
Just the second freshman NFCA All-America selection in Notre Dame history (second team, 2014), Wester finished as a top three finalist for that season’s inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award and was recognized as the ACC Softball Freshman of the Year. She has also been named to the NFCA Mid-Atlantic all-region and all-ACC first teams during each of her first two collegiate campaigns.
The preseason USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year “Watch List” includes 25 seniors, 15 juniors and 10 sophomores, with freshmen ineligible for consideration. Freshmen can be considered for the USA Collegiate Player of the Year award once they officially compete at the collegiate level. Student-athletes from 35 NCAA Division I universities and 15 athletic conferences comprise the preseason watch list.
The Top 25 finalists for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced on April 13.
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.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant 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.