Part of this release was retrieved from NFCA.org.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Clemson Softball utility-ace Valerie Cagle (Yorktown, Va.) has been named one of three finalists for the National FastPitch Coaches Association (NFCA) National Freshman of the Year award, the organization announced on Thursday. In addition to Cagle, the Oklahoma duo of Jayda Coleman and Tiare Jennings were also named finalists for the award.
The winner, which is voted on by the Association’s Division I All-America Committee, will be announced live during a virtual ceremony on June 1 prior to the start of the Women’s College World Series. Co-hosted with USA Softball, the ceremony, which includes the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year reveal, will take place at 9 p.m. EDT on NFCA.org. 2016 Freshman of the Year Amanda Lorenz, who is a volunteer assistant at her alma mater Florida, will be the NFCA’s special guest speaker on Tuesday night.
Cagle, a first team NFCA All-Region selection, was the first player in ACC history to be named league Player and Freshman of the Year in the same season. A top-10 finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Cagle currently is tied for the ACC lead in wins (28) and saves (5), is second in ERA (1.16), innings pitched (216.2), shutouts (11) and batters struck out (267). Her wins, saves and shutouts rank third, fifth and eighth in the NCAA, respectively, while her ERA and strikeouts are 11th best. In the batter’s box, she leads the ACC in slugging percentage (.821) and is tied for first in home runs (17) and RBI (45), third in on-base percentage (.492), and is tied for fourth in doubles (12). Cagle homered and picked up the win in the same game eight times and also recorded a program-record 2- game hitting streak in 2021. Offensively, she ranks top-25 nationally in home runs (t-22nd) and slugging (23rd).
Thursday’s announcement also marks the second time (2016 – Amanda Lorenz & Kelly Barnhill – Florida) two student-athletes from the same program have been in the top three.
The NFCA / Schutt Sports Division I National Freshman of the Year award was created in 2014 to honor outstanding athletic achievement among Division I freshmen softball student-athletes. To be eligible, student-athletes must be nominated by their member head coach. With the cancellation of last year’s season due to COVID-19, eligible candidates hail from the 2020 and 2021 freshman classes. In 2021, the NFCA will award National Freshman of the Year honors to a student-athlete from NCAA DI, NCAA DII, NCAA DIII and NAIA. For more information about all NFCA Awards, visit nfca.org.
Previous winners of the Division I award are Annie Aldrete (Tennessee, 2014), Kasey Cooper (Auburn, 2014), Paige Parker (Oklahoma, 2015), Amanda Lorenz (Florida, 2016), Rachel Garcia (UCLA, 2017), Jocelyn Alo (Oklahoma, 2018) and Danielle Williams (Northwestern, 2019). The award was not presented in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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