Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Two Cats on USA Softball Player of the Year Watchlist
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 01, 2012
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Feb. 1, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY - The University of Arizona softball team had two players named to the USA Softball Player of the Year Watchlist. Juniors Brigette Del Ponte and Kenzie Fowler were two of 50 players named to the watch list as released by the Amateur Softball Association of America, Wednesday.

The preseason honor marks the second consecutive for Fowler, who was one of 10 finalists for the award as a freshman and one of 25 finalists as a sophomore.

Fowler carries a career 1.67 ERA and after two seasons is already seventh on Arizona's career strikeout list with 614 and ninth on the Wildcats' career victories list with 64. Fowler will look to bounce back from a season hindered by injuries and return to her freshman form in which she was considered one of the 10 worthy players nationwide for this award.

This is Del Ponte's first consideration for the award. The second-team All-American set Wildcat freshman records for RBI and home runs two years ago and improved in most statistical categories as a sophomore. A career .723 slugger, Del Ponte set the Arizona record with 23 doubles in 2011. The offense will once again go through her as she projects to bat third and will play a crucial role to Arizona's success.

Stanford's Ashley Hansen was the 2011 USA Softball Player of the Year, marking the third straight year a Pac-12 player has been honored (Washington's Danielle Lawrie 2009 and 2010).

The preseason watchlist includes 23 seniors, 20 juniors and seven sophomores, with freshman ineligible for consideration. (Freshman can be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award once they have competed at the collegiate level.) Athletes named to the watchlist represent 31 NCAA Division I universities and 13 athletic conferences. While Cal, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas lead the way among universities with three athlete representatives each, the Big 12 Conference and the Pacific-12 (Pac-12) Conference have six member schools represented.

The Top 25 Finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 11. While an athlete does not have to be on the "Watch List" to be considered for the Top 25, the eventual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will come from the Top 25 Finalists. The Top 10 Finalists will be announced May 9 and the Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 23. On May 29 prior to the start of the 2012 NCAA Women's College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City, the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed.

2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List

Name (School) - Year - Position - Hometown Emily Allard (Northwestern) - Junior - Shortstop - Antioch, Calif. Valerie Arioto (Cal) - Senior - Utility - Pleasanton, Calif. Nikki Armagost (Pacific) - Junior - Pitcher/Utility - Andover, Kan. Lexy Bennett (Texas) - Senior - Infield - Kingwood, Texas Emily Bledsoe (Texas Tech) - Senior - Infield - Fulshear, Texas Katelyn Boyd (Arizona State) - Senior - Shortstop - Phoenix, Ariz. Kayla Braud (Alabama) - Junior - Outfield - Eugene, Ore. Devon Bridges (Boise State) - Sophomore - Outfield/First base - Danville, Calif. Jenna Caira (Syracuse) - Senior - Pitcher - Toronto, Ontario, Canada Whitney Canion (Baylor) - Junior - Pitcher - Aledo, Texas Raven Chavanne (Tennessee) - Junior - Third base/Outfield - Thousand Oaks, Calif. Amanda Chidester (Michigan) - Senior - Third base - Allen Park, Mich. Aimee Creger (Tulsa) - Sophomore - Pitcher - Yukon, Okla. Brigette Del Ponte (Arizona) - Junior - Infield - Peoria, Ariz. Taylor Edwards (Nebraska) - Sophomore - Catcher - Murrieta, Calif. Dallas Escobedo (Arizona State) - Sophomore - Pitcher - Glendale, Ariz. Bree Evans (Michigan) - Senior - Centerfield - Bloomington, Calif. Ashley Fleming (Missouri) - Senior - Outfield - Silex, Mo. Kenzie Fowler (Arizona) - Junior - Pitcher - Tucson, Ariz. Kellie Fox (UCLA) - Sophomore - Shortstop - San Diego, Calif. Olivia Galati (Hofstra) - Junior - Pitcher/Designated player - West Babylon, N.Y. Lauren Gibson (Tennessee) - Junior - Infield- Pasadena, Md. Ashley Hansen (Stanford) - Senior - Infield - Chandler, Ariz. Andrea Harrison (UCLA) - Senior - Left field/First base - Garden Grove, Calif. Jolene Henderson (Cal) - Junior - Pitcher/First base - Elk Grove, Calif. Taylor Hoagland (Texas) - Junior - Outfield/Third base - Flower Mound, Texas Jessica Iwata (Hawaii) - Junior - Shortstop - Lihu'e, Hawaii Ashley Lane (Michigan) - Junior - Second base - Escondido, Calif. Blaire Luna (Texas) - Junior - Pitcher - Austin, Texas Meagan May (Texas A&M) - Junior - Catcher/First base - Spring, Texas Ashley McClain (FIU) - Senior - Outfield/Pitcher - Brandon, Fla. Dani Miller (Notre Dame) - Senior - Infield - Huntington Beach, Calif. Jen Mineau (Fordham) - Senior - Pitcher - Schaghticoke, N.Y. Adrienne Monka (Northwestern) - Senior - First base - Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Michelle Moultrie (Florida) - Senior - Center field - Jacksonville, Fla. Christi Orgeron (ULL) - Senior - Outfield - New Orleans, La. Sara Plourde (UMass) - Senior - Pitcher - Bristol, Conn. Kimi Pohlman (Washington) - Senior - Outfield - Sammamish, Wash. Jamia Reid (Cal) - Senior - Outfield - Buena Park, Calif. Ellen Renfroe (Tennessee) - Sophomore - Pitcher - Jackson, Tenn. Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma) - Junior - Pitcher - San Jose, Calif. Rachel Riley (Kentucky) - Senior - Pitcher/Designated player - Bowling Green, Ky. Hannah Rogers (Florida) - Senior - Pitcher - Lake Wales, Fla. Brittany Schutte (Florida) - Junior - Catcher - Fountain Valley, Calif. Kathy Shelton (Baylor) - Junior - Outfield - McKinney, Texas Jessica Shults (Oklahoma) - Junior - Catcher - Valencia, Calif. Chelsea Thomas (Missouri) - Redshirt Junior - Pitcher - Pleasantville, Iowa Jackie Traina (Alabama) - Sophomore - Pitcher/Designated player - Naples, Fla. Kelsi Weseman (Georgia Tech) - Senior - Shortstop - Hutto, Texas Niki Williams (Washington) - Senior - Utility - Mission Viejo, Calif.