April 13, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — University of Notre Dame junior All-American and co-captain Karley Wester (Huntington Beach, California/Edison) has been named one of the Top 25 Finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award for the second straight season, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced on Wednesday.
In its 15th year of existence, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the United States.
Wester is the third Notre Dame player in the last four seasons to be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award after being named one of 26 finalists in 2015, joining three-time All-American and Top 10 Finalist Emilee Koerner (’15) in 2013. Wester and Koerner are the only two Irish players in program history to claim finalist recognition for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award.
A two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) first team selection and a 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) second team All-American, Wester began the week as the ACC leader in hits (55), runs scored (42) and stolen bases (30), placing fourth in batting average among all league players with a .430 season clip. Wester also ranked in the national top 10 in runs per game and stolen bases per game in NCAA Division I softball as of April 11, with her batting average placing her among the top 50 hitters in the country.
Along with her hits, runs scored and stolen base totals, Wester leads Notre Dame with 19 multiple-hit outings this season, including six different three-hit performances, and opened 2016 on a team-high 18-game hitting streak. A total of 34 of Wester’s 55 hits this season have officially been credited as infield singles, to go along with five doubles, one triple, one home run and 14 RBI for the Irish leadoff hitter.
This year’s USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 list features nine seniors, 11 juniors and five sophomores. The student-athletes selected represent 20 NCAA Division I institutions and nine athletic conferences. Alabama, Florida, Florida State, James Madison and Michigan each have two players represented while Auburn, Florida Atlantic, Georgia, Kentucky, UL-Lafayette, ULM, Marshall, McNeese State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, UCLA and Washington each have one team member included among the Top 25 Finalists.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year finalist list will be narrowed to the Top 10 Finalists on May 11. The Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 25, while the winner of the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be presented on May 31 prior to the start of the NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives of 10 Division I Conferences in the 15 ASA/USA Softball Regions, members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country and past winners of the award.
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 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 Finalists
Ali Aguilar Washington Infield Junior
Allexis Bennett UCLA Outfield Senior
Jessica Burroughs Florida State Pitcher Junior
Kasey Cooper Auburn Infield Junior
Koral Costa Oregon Outfield Senior
Lexie Elkins UL-Lafayette Catcher Senior
Cortni Emanuel Georgia Infield Sophomore
Jailyn Ford James Madison Pitcher Senior
Megan Good James Madison Pitcher Sophomore
Delanie Gourley Florida Pitcher Junior
Sara Groenewegen Minnesota Pitcher Junior
Kylee Hanson Florida Atlantic Pitcher Junior
Sierra Lawrence Michigan Outfield Senior
Sydney Littlejohn Alabama Pitcher Junior
Haylie McCleney Alabama Outfield Senior
Kelsey Nunley Kentucky Pitcher Senior
Aleshia Ocasio Florida Pitcher Sophomore
Paige Parker Oklahoma Pitcher Sophomore
Erika Piancastelli McNeese State Catcher Sophomore
Alex Powers Florida State Infield Junior
Rochelle Roberts ULM Outfield Junior
Sierra Romero Michigan Infield Senior
Lindsey Stephens Texas Outfield Senior
Karley Wester Notre Dame Outfield Junior
Morgan Zerkle Marshall Outfield Junior
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.