OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, announced today the selection of Washington's Danielle Lawrie (Langley, British Columbia) as the recipient of the 8th Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award.
Lawrie is the first Husky softball player to win any kind of National Player of the Year award. The announcement was made during the opening ceremonies for the 2009 Women's College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
The junior beat out Florida pitcher Stacey Nelson and Arizona State outfielder Kaitlin Cochran for the award, both of whom were seniors.
"I have to say congratulations to both Kaitlin (Cochran) and Stacey (Nelson) on a great season. It very well could have been either of them standing up here instead of me," Lawrie said at the ceremony. "I have to say thanks to my dad who has been such a great supporter of my career and also to my teammates, as I could not be here without them. They allow me to stand up here and receive this award so I am very grateful to them. Also, thanks to Coach Tarr who has helped me throughout my career to be the player I am."
Lawrie has had a record-breaking season for the Huskies, establishing new single-season school records for wins (37), strikeouts (472) and shutouts (19) and also broke UW's career strikeout record early in the season. She has extended that record past the 1,000 and 1,200-career strikeout marks throughout the season and last weekend also went over the 1,300 mark. She currently has 1,316 strikeouts, good for fifth in Pac-10 history and 15th in NCAA history.
After redshirting last season to play for the Canadian National Team in the Olympic Games, Lawrie came out stronger than ever this season, starting the 2009 campaign 15-0 with a 0.14 ERA as the Huskies jumped out to the best start in program history at 18-0. She beat such teams in the non-conference portion of the schedule as No. 1 Florida, No. 4 Alabama, No. 6 Georgia, No. 8 Michigan and No. 12 Ohio State, all of which were shutouts. She was at her best in UW's thrilling nine-inning 1-0 victory over the Gators, striking out 12 and allowing just a pair of infield singles to out-duel Nelson.
Lawrie carried her domination into the grueling Pac-10 schedule, where she fired no-hitters against two of the nation's most potent offenses in Arizona and UCLA. The two no-hitters made her the first pitcher in NCAA history to hold the Wildcats and Bruins hitless in a career, let alone a season. Lawrie went on to be named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, leading the conference in wins, ERA, strikeouts and shutouts.
The season has only gotten better for Lawrie since postseason play heated up, with the award possibly clinched over the last two weekends with a pair of huge performances. In the NCAA Regionals in Amherst, Mass., Lawrie went head-to-head with three-time All-American pitcher Brandice Balschmiter of UMass. In one of the greatest pitcher's duels in NCAA history, Lawrie outlasted Balschmiter in the deciding winner-take-all game, pitching every inning of UW's 15-inning, 6-1 victory. Her 24 strikeouts in the game were a school record and she became one of just three Pac-10 pitchers and 15 in NCAA history to fan at least 24 in a game.
In last weekend's Super Regional finale, Lawrie also proved to be a dangerous two-way threat. In the Super Regional clinching victory, Lawrie allowed just three hits and struck out eight but it was at the plate where she made the most impact, blasting a pair of two-run home runs to give UW a 7-0 win to advance to their second World Series in three years.
Lawrie heads into the World Series with a 37-7 record, a 0.84 ERA and 472 strikeouts to go along with a .277 average, six home runs and 25 RBI.
"We've never had an award like this at Washington for softball," Washington head coach Heather Tarr said. "It's awesome thinking back four or five years ago when I was sitting with Danielle while we were trying to recruit her and how far she has come. I know the belief she has always had in herself and we have always had in her and its neat to see that finally come to fruition. I'm just really proud of her and what she has been able to do for our program. The fact that she has one more full year left is amazing."
A replica of the award will be placed in a permanent display in the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, along with photos of the winner. An additional replica of the award will be presented to the player's academic institution at a designated event in the fall.
Past winners of the award include Stacey Nuveman (UCLA-2002), Cat Osterman (Texas-2003, 2005, 2006), Jessica Van der Linden (Florida State-2004), Monica Abbott (Tennessee-2007) and Angela Tincher (Virginia Tech-2008).
The Huskies kick of the 2009 Women's College World Series on Thursday at 10 a.m. PT when they face No. 6 Georgia. The game will air live on ESPN.