Kentucky infielder Molly Johnson and a pair of Louisville Cardinals are among 50 players on the Amateur Softball Association of America’s initial “watch list” for the ninth annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award.
The list, released Wednesday, includes players from 35 schools and 14 NCAA Division I conferences. Of the 50, 27 are seniors, 17 juniors and six sophomores.
The ASA will announce 25 finalists on April 7. A player does not have to be on this initial list of 50 players to be considered. However, once the group is reduced to 25, the winner will come from that list. The list will be trimmed to 10 on May 12 and to three on May 26. The winner will be announced prior to the start of the NCAA Women’s College World Series at Oklahoma City.
Freshmen are eligible for the list once they have competed on the collegiate level.
All three Bluegrass representatives are seniors.
Johnson is primarily a shortstop but has also played third base and catcher while making 164 consecutive starts for UK. Last year, she helped UK to its first NCAA Tournament appearance last season while becoming the Wildcats’ first All-American in softball. She is an alternate on the 2010 USA Softball National Team. She helped the 2009 National Team win the Japan Cup, belting a grand-slam homer in her first at-bat.
Johnson has UK career records in batting (.395) and slugging (.648), and ranks seventh or better in hits, doubles, triples, homers, RBI, total bases, stolen bases and assists.
Joining Johnson on the watch list are U of L catcher Melissa Roth and pitcher/infielder Kristen Wadwell.
Roth, from Long Beach, Calif., also is a National Team alternate and is reigning Big East Conference Player of the Year. She started all 59 games last season, leading the Cardinals with school records in batting (.444), slugging (.870) and runs scored (64). She tied the school record for RBI in a season (53).
Wadwell, from Sydney, Australia, won a school-record 41 games last season. Another record fell when she struck out 16 in a game against Eastern Michigan. She earned first-team All-Big East honors, as well as being a Big East Academic All-Star.
The watch list, in alphabetical order:
Valerie Arioto (Cal jr., utility); Donna Bourgeois (La.-Lafayette jr., p); Chelsea Bramlett (Miss. State sr., c/if); Stephanie Brombacher (Fla., jr., p); Neena Bryant (Oregon sr., of); Anna Cahn (Cal Poly jr., p/dh); Whitney Canion (Baylor soph., p); Stacie Chambers (Ariz., RS-jr., c); Lauren Delaney (Northwestern sr., p); Krista Donnenwirth (Ariz. State jr., ss/3b); Kelsi Dunne (Ala., jr., p); Francesca Enea (Fla., sr., of); Amber Flores (Okla., sr., if); Alisa Goler (Ga., jr., if); Kelly Grieve (Tenn., jr., of); Alissa Haber (Stanford soph., of); Sarah Hamilton (Fla. State jr., p); Ashley Hansen (Stanford soph., if); Becca Heteniak (DePaul sr., p); Katie Holverson (Nev., sr., p); Tiffany Huff (Tenn., sr., c/1b); MOLLY JOHNSON (KY., SR., IF); Megan Langenfeld (UCLA sr., p/1b); Brittany Lastrapes (Ariz., jr., of); Danielle Lawrie (Wash., sr., p); Sam Marder (Ohio State sr., c); Morgan Melloh (Fresno State jr., p); Rachel Mitchell (LSU sr., of); Adrienne Monka (Northwestern soph., if); Charlotte Morgan (Ala., sr., p/utility); Nikki Nemitz (Mich., sr., p); Carly Normandin (Mass., sr., of); Tara Oltman (Creighton sr., p); Kimi Pohlman (Wash., soph., of); Nikki Prier (Jacksonville State sr., if); Jessica Purcell-Fitu (Brigham Young jr., c); MELISSA ROTH (LOUISVILLE SR., C); Katie Schroeder (UCLA jr., of); Taylor Schlopy (Ga., jr., p/of); Kirsten Shortridge (LSU sr., p/of); Kaila Shull (UCLA sr., c/of); Danielle Spaulding (N.C., sr., 1b/p); Rhea Taylor (Mo., jr., of); Chelsea Thomas (Mo., soph., utility); Brooke Turner (Long Beach State jr., p); Maggie Viefhaus (Mich., sr., if); KRISTEN WADWELL (LOUISVILLE SR., P/IF); Amberley Waits (La. Tech sr., if); Kelsi Weseman (Ga. Tech soph., if); Jen Yee (Ga. Tech sr., 2b).
Baseball America rankings put U of L at No. 13
Kentucky is not listed, but six Southeastern Conference teams are, half of them in the top 10. Texas is No. 1.
4. Cal State Fullerton
6. Georgia Tech
8. Cal Irvine
9. Florida State
10. South Carolina
11. Texas Christian
12. Coastal Carolina
14. Arizona State
16. Miami (Fla.)
18. East Carolina
19. San Diego
20. North Carolina
21. Southern Mississippi
25. Oregon State