Return of the POY: Texas' Paige McDuffee

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: Paige McDuffee

School: The Woodlands (Texas)

Grade: Senior

Position: LHP

2011 W-L: 37-1

2011 IP: 202

2011 ERA: 0.97

2011 K: 227

2011 BA: .405

2011 2B: 9

2011 RBI: 42

Notes: Missed much of this season after undergoing surgery to her pitching forearm. 2010-11 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year. 2010-11 Gatorade Texas Softball Player of the Year. Led the Highlanders (44-1) to the 2011 Class 5A state championship and the No. 1 ranking in the ESPNHS FAB 50 as a junior. 2011 Miss Softball USA as named by ESPNHS. 2010 and 2011 Class 5A First Team All-State selection. 2010 and 2011 District 14-5A Most Valuable Player. 2009 District 4-5A MVP. Transferred from Mansfield (Texas) in 2009.

Academics: B-plus average

College: UCLA

Extracurricular activities: A member of the Crossroads Church Youth Group, she has volunteered locally as part of her team’s Adopt-a-Family program to benefit the needy in addition to serving as a counselor for the Highlanders’ bi-annual softball camps and as an instructor in area youth leagues. McDuffee has also donated her time on behalf of Cook Children’s Hospital, the Lena Pope Home for at-risk youth, and Apple Tree Home Care for senior citizens, all in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Derek Allister of OnDeck Softball, a California-based recruiting and talent-evaluation service: “I think Paige McDuffee is absolutely the real deal. If you’re a high-level position player with her batting numbers in Texas 5A in the Woodlands’ conference, you’re a big-time offensive player, too. So I think that production combined with her pitching success is just amazing. With her postseason run in Texas, that’s a pretty big statement for her, especially when you consider that even the great Cat Osterman never reached the Texas state semifinals.”

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.

Lexie Elkins: Junior third baseman, Memorial (Victoria, Texas)

Kelsee Selman: Junior pitcher, Hudson (Lufkin, Texas)

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.