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Eye on POY: North Carolina softball

The window on the Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.

Lexi Davis

Senior Pitcher, Porter Ridge High (Indian Trail, NC)

2012 Team record: 31-1

2012 Team standing: No. 3 in ESPNHS Fab 50

2012 Batting average: .457

2012 RBI: 42

2012 Home Runs: 8

2012 W-L record: 31-1

2012 ERA: 0.25

2012 Strikeouts: 262

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Auburn

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: All-State; Three-time Conference Player of the Year; District Pitcher of the Year; Pitched 1-0, 2-hitter against Alexander in state playoffs.

Chelsea Wilkinson

Senior Pitcher, Alexander High (Taylorsville, NC)

2012 Team record: 28-2

2012 Team standing: No. 7 in ESPNHS Fab 50

2012 Batting average: .322

2012 RBI: 32

2012 Home Runs: 3

2012 W-L record: 24-1

2012 ERA: 0.26

2012 Strikeouts: 333

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: Georgia

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Two-time Gatorade North Carolina Softball Player of the Year; NFCA First Team All-American; State career records for shutouts and wins; three perfect games this season.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.

Erica Nunn: Senior Pitcher, Holly Springs High (Holly Springs, NC)

Lexi Shubert: Sophomore Pitcher, Foard High (Newton, NC)

Brooke Bell: Senior Pitcher, Aycock High (Pikeville, NC)

Tyler Ross: Junior Outfielder, Union Pines High (Cameron, NC)

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.