A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011-12 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For her 48 fellow Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Nikki Anderson
School: Brainerd (Minn.)
Position: Left-handed pitcher
Athletic achievement: Anderson posted a 20-3 record in 140 innings pitched this past season, compiling a 0.80 ERA and 227 strikeouts in leading the Warriors (20-3) to the Class AAA sectional semifinals. A returning Class AAA Second Team All-State selection as named by the Minnesota Fastpitch Coaches Association, she batted .389 with five doubles and 14 RBI in 2012. A three-time All-Section honoree, Anderson led Brainerd to Class AAA state tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011.
Academic excellence: Also an accomplished flutist, Anderson has maintained a 3.78 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as a classroom assistant/mentor at a separate site school for students with emotional and behavioral challenges, cognitive disabilities, learning disabilities and autism-spectrum disorder, she has volunteered locally at a soup kitchen, as a youth softball instructor, on behalf of Warrior Way Leadership and fundraising for her school’s softball program.
“Nikki Anderson is by far the most talented pitcher we have ever had,” said Brainerd head coach Mike Zauhar. “When Nikki is in the circle, we always have a chance to win as long as we can score a run. The control she has as a pitcher, as well as the movement on the ball, is phenomenal. And not many batters can get the bat around to hit the ball with her speed. She is a captain who leads by example and motivates her teammates to be the best they can be.”
THE FUTURE: Anderson has signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball on scholarship at the University of Minnesota this fall.