TEMPE -- The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced Arizona State University senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo and junior catcher Amber Freeman as two of the Top 25 Finalists for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year on Wednesday.
This is the second consecutive season that Freeman, the defending Pac-12 Player of the Year, has made it as one of the 25 finalists for the honor and the first time that Escobedo has advanced beyond the Top 50 semifinalists. Freeman is the only catcher to make it as one of the 25 finalists.
The selection of Escobedo and Freeman together is only fitting as the two form arguably one of the toughest pitcher-catcher combinations in the nation.
Escobedo is 16-5 this season with a 1.68 ERA and a nation-leading 228 strikeouts while compiling a 6-2 record against team’s ranked in the top-25 nationally. She has been named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week three times and was the USA Softball National Player of the Week following her 3-0 performance at the Judi Garman Classic earlier this season.
Freeman has been among the top hitters in the Pac-12 and the nation this season as she is currently batting .451 with 35 RBI and nine home runs on the season with a team-leading .529 on-base percentage. Freeman has hit safely in all but seven games on the season and has reached base in all but three games. Additionally, Freeman has not had a single error this season, recording 218 putouts for a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
Freeman calls all the pitches for Escobedo, who has posted nine shutouts this season with six one-hitters and one no-hitter. The two have been a tandem for the Sun Devils for the last three seasons and even have worked together outside of Tempe while both have competed for USA Softball at the same time in their careers.
This is the first time the Sun Devils have had more than one player advance as a Top 25 finalist since ASU put three players on the 2008 list from a roster that would eventually win the NCAA Championship.
This award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, is designed to recognize the outstanding athletic achievement by female players across the country.
Just prior to the start of post-season play, on May 7 the list will be narrowed to the Top 10 Finalists. The Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 21, while the winner of the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be revealed on May 27 prior to the start of the NCAA WCWS in Oklahoma City.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives from 11 Division I Conferences in the 15 ASA Regions, members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country as well as past winners of the award.