May 22, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame freshman outfielder Karley Wester has been tabbed as one of the three finalists for the inaugural National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I National Freshman of the Year award, the NFCA announced on Thursday.
In its first season of existence, the NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award was created to recognize the outstanding athletic accomplishments of freshmen softball student-athletes from Division I institutions.
The inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy will be presented during a live ceremony on May 27, prior to the opening of the annual Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla. Wester, first team all-Southeastern Conference (SEC) designated player/catcher Annie Aldrete (Tennessee) and second team all-SEC third baseman Kasey Cooper (Auburn) remain in the running for the award.
Wester was named the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Freshman of the Year after leading the ACC (as of May 22) with a .455 batting average during her rookie campaign, the highest single-season batting average in Irish program history by any player with at least 150 at-bats. She added a league-high 81 hits, four triples and 26 stolen bases in 54 games (53 starts) as the primary Notre Dame left fielder.
An NFCA Mid-Atlantic all-region and all-ACC first team selection, Wester also posted 28 RBI, 50 runs scored and team-highs in both on-base percentage (.517) and outfield assists (six).
The Huntington Beach, Calif. native was at her most effective on offense during ACC play, batting a conference-best .521 with 37 hits, three triples, a .575 on-base percentage and 10 stolen bases in 21 ACC starts. Wester also led all Notre Dame batters with a total of 25 multiple-hit games, and batted an astounding .527 (49-for-93) with three triples, 11 RBI, 12 stolen bases and 29 runs scored in her final 27 games after moving into the leadoff spot of the Irish lineup on April 1 against Ball State.
Along with being an adept top of the order hitter, Wester contributed a .452 batting average (28-for-62) with runners in scoring position during her freshman campaign, and was a .429 hitter against other top 25 opponents in 2014. Her offensive highlights against ranked foes featured a masterful hitting performance in an ACC doubleheader with No. 7 Florida State on April 13. In a two-game split with the conference's top team, Wester went a combined 7-for-9 (.778) against the Seminole pitching staff, including 4-for-8 (.500) against USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year finalist Lacey Waldrop.
Wester was just the fifth player in program history to surpass the 80-hit plateau in a single season, and the first Notre Dame freshman ever to complete the feat, with her 81 hits tied for third in the Irish record book. Her 26 steals and .517 on-base percentage were the second-best totals in school history, while her 50 runs scored (sixth) and four triples (ninth) also cracked Notre Dame's top 10 single-season record lists.
Wester became Notre Dame softball's first-ever ACC award winner during the second week of the regular season, receiving ACC Player of the Week accolades on Feb. 17 after posting a .556 batting average and seven RBI in three games at the Jacksonville University Tournament (Feb. 15-16). She added two stolen bases and three runs scored during the Irish weekend sweep, which included two wins over No. 23 Louisville.
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NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year - Top Three Finalists
Annie Aldrete - DP/C - Tennessee
Kasey Cooper - 3B - Auburn
Karley Wester - OF - Notre Dame
-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant