When you lead your team with a .340 batting average, and when you lead the Southeastern Conference in doubles with 18, you are going to draw the attention of many fans, players, and coaches. When you do that as a freshman, as Mississippi State's Caroline Seitz has done, you end up being named to the Top-25 Finalist list for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's inaugural Freshman of the Year Award.
In addition to leading the team in batting average and doubles, Seitz leads the Bulldogs in hits (49), slugging percentage (.653), multiple-hit games (15), triples (3) and total bases (94).
In the series with then No. 2 Alabama last weekend, Seitz knocked in the go-ahead run against in the Bulldogs' 4-2 victory on Saturday, and then she drove in the tying run in the 10th inning of Sunday's contest.
"This is a great honor for Caroline and our program," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "She can be a cornerstone of Mississippi State softball and somebody we can build around. She is a tireless worker, a reliable and steady presence in our lineup and is very coachable." (Vann Stuedeman interview with For Whom the Cowbell Tolls, and with Bulldog Sports Radio).
In all, the 25 players selected to the finalist list represent eleven different conferences, and no team has more than one representative on the list. Both the SEC and the PAC-12 lead the way with six players each named to the list. The Big West conference had three players named to the list, and the Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference both saw two of their ranks get the nod. Six other conferences had one player named to the list: American Athletic Conference, the Big 12, Sun Belt Conference, Big South Conference, Atlantic Sun Conference and Conference USA.
The NFCA will cull the list to ten on May 8, and on May 22, the top three finalist will be determined and announced. The award will be presented on May 27 prior to the start of the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
NFCA Top-25 Finalists for Division 1 National Freshman of the Year
- Ali Aguilar - SS/2B - Washington
- Annie Aldrete - DP/C - Tennessee
- Maryssa Becker - P/1B - Louisville
- Megan Betsa - P - Michigan
- Nickie Blue - P - South Carolina
- Jessica Burroughs - P - Florida State
- Kristen Clark - OF - UCSB
- Kasey Cooper - 3B - Auburn
- Baylee Corbello - P/UTL - LSU
- Tiarra Davis - P/UTL - Texas
- Tori Finucane - P - Missouri
- Hannah Flippen - 2B - Utah
- Taylor Glover - CF/1B - Cal State Northridge
- Chelsea Gonzales - 2B/DP - Arizona State
- Sara Groenewegen - P/IF - Minnesota
- Haley Hayden - OF - Louisiana-Lafayette
- Sierra Hyland - P/DP - Cal Poly
- Milly Martinet - RF - Campbell
- Katiyana Mauga - RF - Arizona
- Jill Roye - 1B/DP - Tulsa
- Caroline Seitz - 3B - Mississippi State
- Lexi Shubert - P - USC Upstate
- Kylie Sorenson - SS/3B/P - Stanford
- Delaney Spaulding - SS - UCLA
- Karley Wester - OF - Notre Dame