Jan. 29, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame senior Laura Winter and junior All-American Emilee Koerner have been named to the "Watch List" for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced Wednesday.
The announcement marked the third straight season the Irish have had at least one player selected to the top 50 pre-season watch list, with All-Americans Dani Miller (2012) and Amy Buntin (2013) also earning the distinction.
Entering its 13th year, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the United States.
A native of San Diego, Calif., Winter was named the 2013 BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, the eighth different player (10th overall selection) to earn the honor in program history. She was also selected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Great Lakes all-region first team and all-BIG EAST first team as a junior, and became the first Notre Dame player to cop Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National and USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week recognition last season.
Winter tied a single-season program record with 17 home runs and added 52 RBI to pace the BIG EAST, adding a league-high nine home runs and 37 RBI in conference play last season. Winter also boasted a 29-12 record and career-low 1.72 ERA in the circle in 268.1 innings pitched, striking out a BIG EAST-high 306 batters while only yielding 33 walks.
A native of Tustin, Calif., Koerner was one of 10 finalists for the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award as a sophomore, and became the 22nd All-American in team history by being tabbed to the NFCA All-America second team. She added NFCA Great Lakes all-region first team, all-BIG EAST first team and Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player accolades to her resume last season.
Koerner batted an impressive .439 (.479 at the end of the regular season) to lead the Irish and the BIG EAST Conference in batting average last season, the 16th-best final average in the NCAA in 2013. She also ranked ninth nationally in doubles per game (0.36) and set a single-season program record with 21 total doubles during the campaign, to go along with a career-high 11 home runs, 47 RBI, a .772 slugging percentage, a .507 on-base percentage and 51 runs scored.
The pre-season list includes 24 seniors, 20 juniors and six sophomores, with freshmen ineligible for consideration (freshmen can be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award once they have competed at the collegiate level). Athletes named to the watch list represent 36 NCAA Division I universities and 12 athletic conferences.
The Top 25 finalists for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced on April 9.
Notre Dame opens its 2014 regular season schedule on Feb. 8-9 at the Auburn Plainsman Invitational in Auburn, Ala. For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant