Friday, May 17, 2013

Postseason Awards

The conferences and NCAA have already announced a lot of their major award-winners, with the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and Collegiate Player of the Year yet to be announced. In the spirit of award season, I present the 2013 Justin's World awards.

Coach of the Year - Tim Walton, Florida
<<< There was absolutely no contest for me when choosing the winner of this award. Coming off an upset in regionals last year, everybody (including yours truly) fully expected the Gators to completely bomb this season. But Walton led his team superbly, not just to the top of the SEC east, and the SEC regular-season and tournament crowns, but also the #2 nationwide seed. "Superb" is an excellent word to describe Walton and his club this year, and he is more than deserving of the Coach of the Year honor.

Player of the Year - Keilani Ricketts, Oklahoma
>>> I had three players in mind for the Player, Pitcher, and Senior of the Year awards, and it took me quite a while to decide which one should win each award. I decided on Ricketts for Player of the Year, because not only did she have a tremendous year in the pitching circle, she also was one of the best hitters in the country. Sheer power, with both her arm and her bat, Ricketts was arguably the best in the country for the past two years (recall that she also won the 2012 POTY award).

Pitcher of the Year - Olivia Galati, Hofstra
>>> After Ricketts, Galati may not be the top pitcher on most people's lists, but no matter the level of her competition, five no-hitters, a 1.39 ERA and opponent's batting average of .176 in over 300 innings pitched is absolutely amazing. Galati was the #2 overall draft pick for the NPF draft, ahead of Jolene Henderson and even Ricketts. 

Freshman of the Year - Sierra Romero, Michigan
>>> This was probably the hardest award to choose a winner for, but that's really not saying much. In her inaugural campaign, Romero broke the Wolverine single season home run record, and got vaulted herself from not even on the Top 50 watch list to a Top 10 finalist for Player of the Year. She clubbed twenty-two home runs, and registered an .854 slugging percentage, just a few points below that of Lauren Gibson and B.B. Bates.

Senior of the Year - Lauren Gibson, Tennessee
>>> Gibby was the third of the three players I mentioned having trouble with deciding which award should go to who. The SEC player of the year and also a finalist for NCAA Collegiate POTY, Gibson was the runner-up for POTY on my ballot. But I didn't create the "Senior of the Year" award just to talk about her; however, she perfectly epitomizes everything I thought about when I created this award. She is a terrific, absolutely marvelous player, there's no question about that. She's a team leader and a fan favorite, two very important qualities. Gibson epitomizes everything college softball is about, and for my money, that makes her Senior of the Year.

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