Natasha Watley Named as a Finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year

May 13, 2003

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - The Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body for Softball in the United States, announced today the top three finalists for the 2003 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. The award, which is considered the Heisman Trophy in women's collegiate softball and is the only national player of the year award, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. The winner will be announced May 21 at the opening ceremony of the NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, OK.

The three finalists for the 2003 USA Softball Player of the Year Award, listed in alphabetical order, are:

Name School Hometown Pos Class B/T
Lovie Jung Arizona Fountain Valley, CA SS Sr. R/R
Cat Osterman Texas Houston, TX P So. L/L
Natasha Watley UCLA Irvine, CA SS Sr. L/R

Returning to the top three finalists for the second consecutive year, shortstop Natasha Watley continues her noteworthy play for the No. 2 UCLA Bruins. A 5'10' senior from Irvine, CA, Watley's presence at the plate is highly noted listing second in the nation with a .506 batting average. Her speed on the bases leads the Pac 10 with 31 stolen bases on the year. She led the Pac 10 Conference in hits with 87, in batting average at .503, and finished second in runs scored with 56. Watley was honored as the USA Softball Player of the Week for her efforts March 3-9 and also garnered Pac 10 Player of the Week honors February 25.

A senior shortstop for the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats, Jung's powerful hitting has dominated the NCAA this season. Recording 68 hits, 18 doubles, two triples and a remarkable 24 home runs, Jung led Arizona to its seventh Pac 10 title. The 5'6' Fountain Valley, CA athlete leads the nation with her 24 homers and also is atop the list of the nations RBI leaders with 72. A two-time Pac 10 Player of the Week, Jung ended the Pac 10 season sitting No.1 in six conference categories including slugging percentage (1.052); runs scored (61); RBI (72); doubles (18); home runs (24) and total bases (162).

The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Osterman's 2003 performance in the circle for the No. 3 Texas Longhorns is unmatched. The 6'1' sophomore ranks No. 1 in the nation in ERA at 0.33 and also in strikeouts per inning, averaging 14.3 per seven innings pitched. A native of Houston, TX, Osterman was a two time USA Softball Player of the Week, and led her team to the first ever back-to-back Big 12 regular season and tournament titles. At 26-4, this south paw has combined for 393 strikeouts in 193.0 innings, allowing only 57 hits and nine earned runs. She was a five-time Big 12 Player of the Week and also received MVP honors at the Big 12 Tournament.

A replica of the Player of the Year 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.

UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman was selected as the inaugural winner of the award in 2002 after leading her Bruins to the Pac 10 title and a berth into the Women's College World Series.

The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of amateur softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. As the National Governing Body, the ASA is responsible for identifying, selecting and training male and female athletes to compete in World, Pan American and Olympic competitions. It is also responsible for promoting and growing the sport of softball across the country.

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