NEB Softball: Knighten Named to Player of the Year Watch List

Posted By: Sports

Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

Nebraska senior third baseman MJ Knighten was one of 50 players nationally named to the preseason USA Softball Player-of-the-Year Watch List, announced on Wednesday. Knighten was one of five players from the Big Ten Conference who made the preseason watch list.

Knighten is coming off a tremendous junior season when became Nebraska’s seventh first-team All-American. Knighten was a first-team all-conference, all-region and All-America selection in 2016 after ranking fourth nationally in home runs, 13th in runs per game, 19th in RBIs per game and 23rd in slugging percentage. Knighten posted a .376 batting average last season with 64 hits, eight doubles, 21 home runs, 61 runs scored, 60 RBIs, a .509 on-base percentage and a .794 slugging percentage.

One of only eight returning 2016 first-team All-Americans, Knighten will look to become the first Husker to earn back-to-back first-team All-America accolades this spring. Last season, Knighten became the first player in school history to average 1.0 hit, 1.0 run and 1.0 RBI per game. She was also the first Husker to total 60 hits, 60 runs and 60 RBIs in a season. Knighten was one of only eight Division I players to average 1.0 hit, 1.0 run and 1.0 RBI per game in 2016 and was one of only nine players who totaled 60 hits, 60 runs and 60 RBIs.

In addition to ranking near the top of the nation’s returning statistical leaders, Knighten has left her mark in the Nebraska record books. In 2016, Knighten hit the second-most home runs in school history while also ranking second in runs scored and slugging percentage, fourth in RBIs, fifth in total bases (135) and sixth in walks (39). She begins her senior season already among Nebraska’s all-time top 10 in batting average (5th, .368), home runs (5th, 35), runs scored (7th, 146), RBIs (5th, 158), slugging percentage (5th, .623), total bases (10th, 342) and extra-base hits (10th, 64). Using averages from her first three seasons, Knighten is on pace to challenge Nebraska’s all-time hits, runs and RBI records this spring.

One of the nation’s top hitters will likely get the first at bat of the season when Nebraska plays BYU on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 10 a.m. in the first Division I softball game of 2017. The Huskers will be the visitor in that game, and Knighten is expected to be Nebraska’s leadoff hitter. NU will play four games in three days at the Puerto Vallarta College Classic, including ending the tournament with games against No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Auburn and No. 13 Washington.