May 11, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In the midst of a career year for the University of Notre Dame softball team, junior co-captain Karley Wester (Huntington Beach, California/Edison) can add another prominent national honor to her résumé. The Notre Dame outfielder was one of the Top 10 Finalists for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award announced on Wednesday by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball.
In its 15th year of existence, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the United States.
Wester is the second Notre Dame player in the last four seasons to be a Top 10 Finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, joining three-time All-American Emilee Koerner ('15) in 2013. Wester, one of five position players included in the 2016 award’s final 10 candidates, is the lone representative of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) still in the running for national player of the year.
A two-time all-ACC first team selection and a 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) second team All-American, Wester finished the regular season as the ACC leader in batting average (.447), hits (80) and runs scored (59), adding the second most stolen bases (42) among all league players. Wester also ranked in the national top 20 in runs per game (1.2, sixth), stolen bases per game (0.86, eighth) and batting average (17th) in NCAA Division I softball as of May 9.
Along with her batting average, hits, runs scored and stolen base totals, Wester leads Notre Dame with 27 multiple-hit outings, including seven different three-hit performances and one four-hit game, and has safely reached base in 46 of 49 Irish games thus far this season. A total of 42 of Wester's 80 hits this season have officially been credited as infield singles, to go along with eight doubles, one triple, two home runs and 31 RBI for the Irish leadoff hitter. Wester’s 42 stolen bases this season and 94 career steals have both established Notre Dame program records in 2016.
This year's USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 10 list features three seniors, five juniors and two sophomores. The student-athletes selected represent nine NCAA Division I universities and six athletic conferences. Florida leads the way among universities with two athlete representatives, while Alabama, Auburn, Florida Atlantic, James Madison, UL-Lafayette, Michigan, Minnesota and Notre Dame each have one student-athlete represented.
The Top 3 Finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be announced on May 25, while the winner of the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be presented on May 31 prior to the start of the NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives of 10 Division I Conferences in the 15 ASA/USA Softball Regions, members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country and past winners of the award.
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 10 Finalists
Kasey Cooper Auburn Infield Junior
Lexie Elkins UL-Lafayette Catcher Senior
Megan Good James Madison Pitcher Sophomore
Delanie Gourley Florida Pitcher Junior
Sara Groenewegen Minnesota Pitcher Junior
Kylee Hanson Florida Atlantic Pitcher Junior
Haylie McCleney Alabama Outfield Senior
Aleshia Ocasio Florida Pitcher Sophomore
Sierra Romero Michigan Infield Senior
Karley Wester Notre Dame Outfield Junior
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men's soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and with the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.