TEMPE -- The National Fastpitch Coaches Association has announced Arizona State Softball’s Chelsea Gonzales as one the top 25 finalists for the inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy, which will be presented prior to the start of the 2014 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
While numerous Sun Devil newcomers have shined in the spotlight this season, none have had as impressive an impact as Gonzales. The freshman infielder/designated player is batting .373 on the season – good for second on the team - and has been exceptional at getting her bat on the ball. Gonzales has struck out just six times - the least among Sun Devil starters - and has posted a .400 on-base percentage.
Gonzales has taken her play to another level since the Sun Devils have entered Pac-12 league action. She leads the team in two-out RBI with 11 in Pac-12 action while going 4-for-5 in league play with the bases loaded. She has 17 RBI in Pac-12 games this season, a total that also leads the team and is fifth in the Pac-12.
Gonzales has 35 total RBI on the season, third behind juniors Amber Freeman and Haley Steele and her numbers are more notable as she has accomplished her eye-popping numbers with about 20 less at bats than most of the other starters on the roster.
With the Association always searching for innovative ways to promote the sport of softball, the NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award was created from an idea to honor outstanding athletic achievement among freshmen softball student-athletes throughout Division I.
Each of this year’s 25 finalists hails from a different university while the group represents 11 Division I leagues across the nation. Both the Southeastern Conference and the Pac-12 Conference picked up the most overall selections with six each, while the Big West Conference garnered three inclusions and the Big Ten Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference tied with two each. The American Athletic Conference, Big 12 Conference, Sun Belt Conference, Big South Conference, Atlantic Sun Conference and Conference USA all reaped one nod.
On Thurs., May 8, the list will be trimmed down to the top 10 finalists, while the top 3 finalists will be selected and released on Thurs., May 22. The inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy will be presented during a live ceremony on May 27 prior to the opening of the annual Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
About the NFCA
The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) is the professional growth organization for fastpitch softball coaches for all competitive levels of play. Founded in the early 1980s by collegiate softball coaches, today the organization also includes high school coaches, travel ball/club coaches and individuals who support the sport. Founded by coaches for coaches, the Association is built on strong values and continually instills within its members a deep sense of responsibility for developing programs that enrich the lives of all those involved.
In addition, the Association provides educational training; encourages sportsmanship and high standards of competition; promotes the sport both nationally and internationally; identifies and pursues issues relevant to the fastpitch coaching profession and provides a forum to discuss those issues; honors excellence through awards programs for coaches and players, and keeps members informed of current coaching techniques, equipment innovations and fastpitch news.