The window on the Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.
Senior right-handed pitcher, Coalfield (Tenn.)
2012 Team record: 39-10-1 (Class A)
2012 Team standing: Lost Class A state semifinal to Christian Grace Academy (Knoxville, Tenn.), 8-0
2012 Batting average: .345
2012 RBI: 32
2012 Runs: 14
2012 W-L record: 34-9
2012 ERA: 0.58
2012 Strikeouts: 567
Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Marshall University
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Struck out 2.15 batters per inning. 2011 First Team All-American as named by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Class A First Team All-State selection as named by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association.
Senior right-handed pitcher, Soddy-Daisy (Tenn.)
2012 Team record: 46-5 (Class AAA)
2012 Team standing: Class AAA state champions
2012 W-L record: 36-4
2012 ERA: 0.45
2012 Strikeouts: 401
Academics: A-minus average
Collegiate destination: University of Kentucky
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Recorded a 19.1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 0.47 WHIP. Allowed just 16 earned runs in 246 innings pitched. Threw 31 shutouts and 12 no-hitters. 2009 and 2010 All-City Player of the Year as named by Chattanooga’s Times Free Press. Four-time Times Free Press First Team Best of Preps selection. 2010 and 2011 Class AAA First Team All-State selection as named by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. 2010 Class AAA state champion.
Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.
Rachel Albritton: Senior pitcher/outfielder, Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
Bryanna Blanco: Senior shortstop, Maryville (Tenn.)
Abby Daniels: Senior center, Ooltewah (Tenn.)
Brittany Elmore: Senior shortstop, Goodpasture Christian (Madison, Tenn.)
Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.