OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and USA Softball announced last Thursday their initial watch list for the 3rd annual USA Softball Player of the Year Award.

Making the initial 40-player list were 16 college seniors that were drafted in the Dec. 6 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Senior Draft. Six of the eight NPF teams had at least two draft picks make the list, while the other four teams had three of their draft picks on the list.

Due to NCAA regulations, an active college senior-athlete may not sign with her respective franchise until their college season is finished in May.

The award is the only national player of the year award, and is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. The winner will be announced at the 2004 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

NPF consists of eight teams located in Akron, Ohio, Denver, Colo., Houston, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, Lowell, Mass., Sacramento, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., and Upper Montclair, NJ. Akron has been a member of the league since league play began in 1997.

The 2004 NPF season runs from June 1 through August 31 and includes a 56-game regular season for each team, an all-star game, a best-of-three Division Playoff and a best-of-five Championship Series.

National Pro Fastpitch is the only professional women’s fastpitch league in the United States. The league is headquartered in Denver, and has been in operation since 1997 under the names Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Professional Softball League (WPSL).

To view the entire list for the 3rd annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award visit www.usasoftball.com.

2004 NPF Senior Draft Picks on Initial Watch List
Akron Racers
1. Iyhia McMichael, Mississippi State (Rd. 1, 1st overall)
2. Oli Keohohou, Long Beach State (Rd. 4, 25th overall)
3. Tia Bollinger, Washington (Rd. 5, 32nd overall)

Arizona Heat
4. Keira Goerl, UCLA (Rd. 1, 5th overall)
5. Claire Sua, UCLA (Rd. 2, 13th overall)
6. Jessica van der Linden, Florida State (Rd. 5, 37th overall)

Colorado Altitude
7. Phelan Wright, Arizona State (Rd. 1, 4th overall)
8. Nicole Barber, Georgia (Rd. 2, 12th overall)
9. Nicole Trimboli, Nebraska (Rd. 3, 20th overall)

Houston Thunder
10. Mackenzie Vandergeest*, Arizona (Rd. 1, 7th overall)
11. Peaches James, Nebraska (Rd. 2, 15th overall)
12. Kristen Zaleski, Texas State (Rd. 3, 23rd overall
* – Vandergeest’s draft rights were traded to the Arizona Heat on Jan. 12.

New England Riptide
13. Dana Sorenson, Stanford (Rd. 1, 8th overall)
14. Jackie McClain, Alabama (Rd. 3, 18th overall)

NY/NJ Juggernaut
15. Jenny Gladding, Florida (Rd. 1, 3rd overall)
16. Aisha Franke, Massachusetts (Rd. 3, 19th overall)

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