Missouri sophomore Chelsea Thomas has been named a top-3 finalist for the 10th annual 2011 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced.
This award, which is considered the most prestigious honors in Division I women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Arizona State's Katelyn Boyd and Stanford's Ashley Hansen join Thomas as the three remaining finalists.
Honored as this year's Big 12 Conference's Pitcher of the Year, Thomas went 13-3 in league play with a 1.09 ERA, the best amongst Big 12 pitchers. The Pleasantville, Iowa-native struck out 166 batters to 27 walks in 115.2 innings pitched. She had the lowest walks per seven innings total in conference play at 1.63, and her 10.05 strikeouts per seven innings was second best in the league. For the season, Thomas is second in the NCAA with a 0.82 earned run average to go with her 29-6 record. In 231.2 innings pitched, Thomas has 342 strikeouts - a Mizzou single season record - and just 40 walks while limiting hitters to a .141 average. No. 4 Missouri will face No. 14 Washington this weekend, needing to win twice to advance to the WCWS.
Thomas would become the first Tiger to win the award and the first Big 12 student-athlete to win since Texas' Cat Osterman. Osterman won the honor three times during her tenure at UT.
The winner of the 2011 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced on May 31 at the athlete banquet of the 2011 Women's College World Series. Thomas and the Tigers look to return to the WCWS for the third straight season, when they host No. 12 Washington in a best-of-three series this weekend beginning Saturday, May 28 at 8 p.m. CT.