Return of the POY: Illinois' Brianna LeBeau

The Gatorade State Softball Players of the Year selection process is in full swing, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for.

Name: Brianna LeBeau

School: Richards (Oak Lawn, Ill.)

Grade: Senior

Position: RHP/IF

2011 W-L: 25-3

2011 IP: 182.1

2011 ERA: 1.07

2011 K: 176

2011 BA: .516

2011 2B: 18

2011 RBI: 56

2011 R: 46

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Illinois Softball Player of the Year. Led the Bulldogs (32-3) to the 2011 Class 4A super-sectionals. 2011 Female Athlete of the Year as named by the Chicago Tribune. 2011 First Team All-Area selection as named by the Chicago Sun-Times. 2010 Tribune Honorable Mention All-State selection. 2010 Sun-Times Third Team All-Area selection.

Academics: A average

College: Northwestern University

Extracurricular activities: Also a standout volleyball and basketball player, she has volunteered locally on behalf of the Special Olympics, the Chicago Marathon, Public Action to Deliver Shelter and a youth literacy-outreach program.

Julie Folliard, head coach at Richards: “Brianna LeBeau is one of the most talented and recognized players in the state. She remains one of the most feared hitters in the state as well. At 5-foot-11, she is a triple offensive threat as she hits for average, power and has speed on the bases. Both offensively and defensively I have witnessed Brianna’s uncanny ability to anticipate a moment of weakness in an opponent and grab it so quickly to turn the game in our favor. Her awareness and savvy for the game are truly amazing and a special gift she possesses.”

Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning boys soccer underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11.

Kelly Christner: Junior outfielder, Andrew (Tinley Park, Ill.)

Lilly Fecho: Senior pitcher, Glenbard North (Carol Stream, Ill.)

Dani Goranson: Senior pitcher, Elk Grove (Elk Grove Village, Ill.)

Maeve McGuire: Senior pitcher, Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.)

Emily Naegele Senior catcher, Oak Forest (Ill.)

Abby Ramirez: Junior shortstop, Trinity (River Forest, Ill.)

A dedicated ESPNHS POY team manages the Gatorade Player of the Year selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the program’s behalf. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNHS recruit rankings.

To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.