OKLAHOMA CITY - East Carolina senior All-America Toni Paisley has been named one of the Top 25 Finalists for the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America's 2011 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, according to an announcement Wednesday by the organization. The honor, which is considered the most prestigious in Division I women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.
Paisley is the lone representative from Conference USA and is one of just two players outside a "power six conference" school to make the final 25 list.
After earning Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-America Third-Team honors a year ago, Paisley has been nearly as impressive this season, going 22-8 with a 1.08 earned run average. She has a NCAA Division I-leading 13 solo shutouts after tossing 22 in 2010. This season, the Lakewood, Calif., native has struck out 262 batters in 200.1 innings and walked just 33. Opponents are hitting .161 against her.
Through April 10 games, Paisley was ranked among the top 20 at the Division I level in victories (2nd/22), total strikeouts (6th/250), earned run average (9th/1.05), walks allowed per seven innings (12th/1.08) and hits allowed per seven innings (12th/3.96).
Already this season, Paisley set the Conference USA career strikeout record when she recorded the 949th whiff of her career against St. John's Feb. 18. She is now up to 1,156 career strikeouts, tied for the 29th most in NCAA Division I history.
Paisley owns the East Carolina all-time victory mark with 108 and is tied with DePaul's Lindsay Chouinard (2000-03) for the league victory standard. Paisley and Chouinard are also knotted at the top for the C-USA innings pitched record with 975.0. Finally, Paisley is tied with 2007 teammate and former pitching coach Keli Harrell for the ECU and C-USA appearances mark at 167.
The Top 25 list represents 17 schools and six NCAA Division I Conferences. The list is composed of nine seniors, six juniors, nine sophomores and one freshman. The ASA will narrow the field down to 10 on May 11.
That group will be pared down to three on May 25 while the winner of the 2011 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced prior to the start of the NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Paisley and the Pirates (29-15, 9-6 C-USA) return to the field this weekend for a key Conference USA series at first-place UAB (29-11, 11-1 C-USA). The Blazers were one of just two C-USA schools to take the series from ECU last season. The teams play a 2:00 p.m. Saturday doubleheader and complete the set with a 1:00 p.m. Sunday game.
2011 USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List
Name (School) - Year - Position - Hometown
Emily Allard (Northwestern) - Sophomore - Infield/Outfield - Antioch, Calif.
Lexy Bennett (Texas) - Junior - Infield - Kingwood, Texas
Katelyn Boyd (Arizona State) - Junior - Infield - Phoenix, Ariz.
Kayla Braud (Alabama) - Sophomore - Infield - Eugene, Ore.
Stephanie Brombacher (Florida) - Senior - Pitcher - Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Megan Bush (Florida) - Senior - Utility - Anaheim Hills, Calif.
Raven Chavanne (Tennessee) - Sophomore - Outfield - Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Kat Dotson (Tennessee) - Sophomore - Outfield - Savannah, Ga.
Kelsi Dunne (Alabama) - Senior - Pitcher - Port Orange, Fla.
Taylor Edwards (Nebraska) - Freshman - Catcher - Murietta, Calif.
Kenzie Fowler (Arizona) - Sophomore - Pitcher - Tucson, Ariz.
Alisa Goler (Georgia) - Senior - Infield - Frankfort, Ill.
Ashley Hansen (Stanford) - Junior - Infield - Chandler, Ariz.
Andrea Harrison (UCLA) - Junior - Outfield - Garden Grove, Calif.
Brittany Lastrapes (Arizona) - Senior - Outfield - Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Blaire Luna (Texas) - Sophomore - Pitcher - Austin, Texas
Christi Orgeron (Louisiana-Lafayette) - Junior - Utility - New Orleans, La.
Toni Paisley (East Carolina) - Senior - Pitcher/Utility - Lakewood, Calif.
Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma) - Sophomore - Pitcher - San Jose, Calif.
Jenn Salling (Washington) - Senior - Infield - Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada
Dorian Shaw (Michigan) - Senior - Infield - Burke, Va.
Jessica Shults (Oklahoma) - Sophomore - Catcher - Valencia, Calif.
Jordan Taylor (Michigan) - Senior - Pitcher - Valencia, Calif.
Chelsea Thomas (Missouri) - RS-Sophomore - Pitcher - Pleasantville, Iowa
Niki Williams (Washington) - Junior - Outfield - Mission Viejo, Calif.