Taylor Edwards a finalist for College Softball Player of the Year

Freshman Taylor Edwards was honored as one of the nation's top collegiate softball players on Wednesday, when the Amateur Softball Association announced her as one of 25 national finalists for the 2011 USA Softball College Player-of-the-Year award.


Edwards has burst onto the national scene in her freshman season. She is batting .419 with seven doubles, 15 homers and 50 RBIs in only 105 at bats. Edwards also boasts a Big 12-best .914 slugging percentage and has drawn 25 walks to reach base at a .537 clip.


A native of Murrieta, Calif., Edwards leads all freshmen nationally in home runs and RBIs per game and ranks fifth in batting average. Among all players in Division I, Edwards ranks sixth in home runs and RBIs per game and 13th in slugging percentage, while also ranking among the top 50 players nationally in on-base percentage (31st), walks per game (43rd) and batting average (49th).


Edwards established an NCAA record just 11 games into her career by hitting a home run in six consecutive games, the longest streak in NCAA history. Last month, Edwards broke the Nebraska freshman home run record, and she has produced the second-most RBIs and second-best batting average by a freshman in school history. Overall, Edwards currently owns the top slugging percentage in school history regardless of class, while ranking fourth in home runs and fielding percentage, fifth in batting average and sixth in RBIs.


On the conference level, Edwards entered this week leading the Big 12 in slugging percentage, while ranking second in home runs and total bases, fourth in batting average, RBIs and on-base percentage and fifth in walks. Since Nebraska has played the second-fewest games of any Big 12 school, Edwards' totals are even more impressive when the statistics are viewed equally on a per-game basis. On a per-game basis, Edwards leads the league in home runs, RBIs and total bases.


Edwards has hit 15 home runs and produced 50 RBIs in fewer games than any other player in school history, surpassing the marks of three-time All-American Ali Viola. Edwards also joined Viola as the only Huskers ever to produce a 15-homer, 50-RBI season. The two seasons that Viola accomplished the feat, she was named a first-team All-American.


A clutch hitter, Edwards has been tremendous in pressure situations for Nebraska. She has driven in the game-winning run in 12 of the Huskers' 30 victories this season, while producing at least one RBI in 26 of her 36 games. Overall, Edwards has produced at least two RBIs in half of her games played this season.


Edwards is the first Husker to be named one of the 25 player-of-the-year finalists since Peaches James, who was a finalist in both 2002 and 2004. The current list of finalists will be narrowed to 10 on May 11.


2011 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 Finalists

Name (School) – Year – Position – Hometown
*Emily Allard (Northwestern) – Sophomore – Infield/Outfield – Antioch, Calif.
*Lexy Bennett (Texas) – Junior – Infield – Kingwood, Texas
Katelyn Boyd (Arizona State) – Junior – Infield – Phoenix, Ariz.
Kayla Braud (Alabama) – Sophomore – Infield – Eugene, Ore.
Stephanie Brombacher (Florida) – Senior  – Pitcher – Pembroke Pines, Fla.
*Megan Bush (Florida) – Senior – Utility – Anaheim Hills, Calif.
Raven Chavanne (Tennessee) – Sophomore – Outfield – Thousand Oaks, Calif.
*Kat Dotson (Tennessee) – Sophomore – Outfield – Savannah, Ga.
Kelsi Dunne (Alabama) – Senior – Pitcher – Port Orange, Fla.
*Taylor Edwards (Nebraska) – Freshman – Catcher – Murietta, Calif.
Kenzie Fowler (Arizona) – Sophomore – Pitcher – Tucson, Ariz.
Alisa Goler (Georgia) – Senior – Infield – Frankfort, Ill.
Ashley Hansen (Stanford) – Junior – Infield – Chandler, Ariz.
Andrea Harrison (UCLA) – Junior – Outfield – Garden Grove, Calif.
Brittany Lastrapes (Arizona) – Senior – Outfield – Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Blaire Luna (Texas ) – Sophomore – Pitcher – Austin, Texas
*Christi Orgeron (ULL) – Junior – Utility – New Orleans, La.
Toni Paisley (East Carolina) – Senior – Pitcher/Utility – Lakewood, Calif. 
Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma) – Sophomore –  Pitcher – San Jose, Calif.
Jenn Salling (Washington) – Senior – Infield – Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada
Dorian Shaw (Michigan) – Senior – Infield – Burke, Va.
Jessica Shults (Oklahoma) – Sophomore – Catcher – Valencia, Calif.
Jordan Taylor (Michigan) – Senior – Pitcher – Valencia, Calif.
*Chelsea Thomas (Missouri) – RS-Sophomore – Pitcher – Pleasantville, Iowa
Niki Williams (Washington) – Junior – Outfield – Mission Viejo, Calif.
*Was not on Top 50 Watch list