Return of the POY: North Carolina's Chelsea Wilkinson

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: Chelsea Wilkinson

School: Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.)

Grade: Senior

Position: RHP

2011 W-L: 31-2

2011 IP: 212

2011 ERA: 0.66

2011 K: 370

2011 BA: .358

2011 HR: 7

2011 RBI: 34

Notes: 2009-10 and 2010-11 Gatorade North Carolina Softball Player of the Year. Led the Cougars (31-2) to the 2011 Class 4A state championship. Three-time Charlotte Observer Player of the Year. 2011 First Team All-American as named by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. 2009 and 2010 NFCA Second Team All-American. 2009 Class 4A state champion. Two-time state championship game Most Valuable Player.

Academics: A average

College: University of Georgia

Extracurricular activities: Also a talented musician, she has volunteered locally on behalf of Christmas toy drives for needy children and fundraising campaigns to benefit cancer research.

Wayne Deans, head coach of rival D.H. Conley (Greenville, N.C.): “Wilkinson is very, very good. She’s not easily rattled and she has great command of any pitch she wants to throw.”

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.

Lexi Davis: Senior pitcher, Porter Ridge (Indian Trail, N.C.)

Lauren Elder: Senior catcher, Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.)

McKenzie Moyer: Senior pitcher, Cannon School (Concord, N.C.)

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.