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.
Senior right-handed pitcher/infielder, Kingsway Regional (Swedesboro, N.J.)
2012 Team record: 26-3 (Group III)
2012 Team standing: Group III state semifinal vs. Lawrence on Tuesday
2012 Batting average: .487
2012 RBI: 43
2012 Runs: 43
2012 W-L record: 24-3
2012 ERA: 0.67
2012 Strikeouts: 268
Academics: A-minus average
Collegiate destination: Temple University
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Recorded 1.5 strikeouts per inning, a 7.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 0.67 WHIP. Produced a 1.079 slugging percentage and .639 on-base percentage through 29 games. Amassed 12 doubles and 11 home runs. 2010 and 2011 Third Team All-State selection. 2010 Player of the Year as named by the Gloucester County Times. 2010 and 2011 First Team All-Group III selection.
Junior right-handed pitcher, Toms River East (Toms River, N.J.)
2012 Team record: 26-3 (Group IV)
2012 Team standing: Lost Group IV, South sectional final vs. Eastern (Voorhees, N.J.), 4-3
2012 Batting average: .452
2012 RBI: 34
2012 Runs: 7
2012 W-L record: 25-2
2012 ERA: 0.80
2012 Strikeouts: 198
Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Boston College (verbal)
How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Had an extra-base hit once every 6.4 trips to the plate and produced 0.37 RBI per at-bat. Registered 1.2 strikeouts per inning, a 3.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 0.95 WHIP. 2010 and 2011 Second Team All-Group IV selection.
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.
Sydney Canessa: Junior shortstop, Wall Township (Wall, N.J.)
Valerie Cassell: Senior pitcher, Edison (N.J.)
Lauren Fischer: Junior right-handed pitcher, Robbinsville (N.J.)
Ally Frei: Sophomore right-handed pitcher, High Point Regional (Sussex, N.J.)
Carly Piccinich: Senior 2B, Immaculate Heart Academy (Washington Township, N.J.)
Corey Schwartz: Senior shortstop, Toms River East (Toms River, N.J.)
Kyrsten VanNatta: Senior shortstop, Columbia (Maplewood, N.J.)
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.