LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Haley Simonds and Natalie Willis have been added to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/Schutt Sports Division II National Player of the Year Watch List. This award recognizes the athletic achievement of softball student-athletes in Division II.
Newberry’s program is one of six that garnered two nominees. A total of 50 players have been selected with four representing the South Atlantic Conference. Lenoir-Rhyne’s junior outfielder Erin Boone and Carson-Newman’s sophomore pitcher Lacie Rinus were also named to the list.
Simonds, a sophomore at the utility position, is a returning NFCA All-American. Recently named to the SAC preseason All-Conference First Team, she has started the 2018 campaign off by hitting .462 (5-for-11) with four RBI’s, a double, and two walks through her first four games.
To end the 2017 season Simonds had a .397 batting average, 50 RBIs, 20 runs scored, 12 home runs, with a .478 on-base percentage. As a freshman she garnered numerous accolades: All-American by the NFCA and D2CCA, first team All-Southeast Region by both publications, first-team all-SAC and all-ECAC, and the SAC all-tournament team.
A junior infielder, Willis was recently named to the SAC preseason All-Conference Second Team. She has started all four games at shortstop this season, batting .375 (6-for-16) with five runs scored, an RBI, and a walk. She is 2-for-2 on stolen base attempts and has played errorless defense in nine chances in the field.
She concluded her sophomore season by posting 40 runs, 12 RBIs, and hitting a team-best .423. Her fielding percentage was .995 and she tallied a team-high 15 stolen bases. Willis finished fourth in the SAC in batting average (.418), fifth in hits (64), was named first-team all-Southeast Region by the NFCA and second team by D2CCA, all-SAC second team, and to the SAC all-tournament team.
The Top 25 finalists will be announced on April 23 with the top-10 coming on May 15. The winner will be announced on June 4.