June 3, 2002
TUCSON - University of Arizona softball pitcher Jennie Finch was named winner of the Honda Softball Award as the national player of the year today, earning the prize for the second consecutive season.
Finch, a 21-year-old senior from La Mirada, Calif., compiled a 34-6 record and an earned run average of 0.97 in leading the Wildcats to a 55-12 record and the program's 15th appearance in the NCAA Women's College World Series a few weeks ago. The Cats played in the title game for the 10th time May 27, losing to the California Golden Bears, 6-0.
Finch established an NCAA record earlier in the season by winning her first 20 decisions to post a string of 60 consecutive victories spanning three seasons. She set the Arizona record with 366 strikeouts. She hit .311 as a pitcher/first baseman and tied her career high with 16 home runs. She had 56 runs batted in and added eight doubles for a .605 slugging percentage.
Finch's award gave UA five Honda Softball Awards since 1994, joining UA pitcher Susie Parra (1994), second baseman Jennie Dalton (1996), pitcher Nancy Evans (1998) and Finch's first award in 2001. Arizona has won more Honda softball awards than all schools but UCLA, which has eight and the individual record holder, pitcher Lisa Fernandez, who won the Award three years running, 1991-93.
The honor makes Finch a finalist for the 26th Honda-Broderick Cup to be presented to the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year in banquet ceremonies June 17 in Dallas. Among contender for the award is Arizona cross country runner Tara Chaplin, winner in the fall of the Honda Sports Award for her sport.
Among past winners of the Honda-Broderick Cup are basketball stars Anne Meyers of UCLA, Cheryl Miller of Southern California and Rebecca Lobo of Connecticut, track star Jackie Joyner of UCLA, runner Suzy Favor of Wisconsin and soccer player Mia Hamm of North Carolina. Lisa Fernandez is the only softball player to win the Honda-Broderick Cup, earning the award in 1993.
Finch was named 2002 Pacific-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year, earned first-team All-America honors for the third consecutive season, first-team All-Pacific Region honors for the third year, was an All-NCAA Region 2 selection and earned All-Women's College World Series honors for the second season. She was 3-1 in the series this year including an 11-inning, 17-strikeout victory over Florida State, which she sparked with a home run,
She finished her UA career with a record of 119-16 and set UA records for career innings pitched (876 and two-thirds) and strikeouts (1,028). She was Most Outstanding Player in the 2001 world series, which Arizona won for its sixth national title, capping a year in which Finch set another NCAA record with the best perfect season in history, 32-0.
Finch will train and play this summer with the U.S.A. Team pool of players vying to become members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic softball team to be coached by University of Arizona head coach Mike Candrea.