Newberry nabs two on National Player of the Year Watch List

Staff Report
Haley Simonds and Natalie Willis are two of the four SAC players represented in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/Schutt Sports Division II National Player of the Year Watch List.. - Courtesy photo

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.

Haley Simonds and Natalie Willis are two of the four SAC players represented in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/Schutt Sports Division II National Player of the Year Watch List..
https://www.newberryobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_Softball1.jpgHaley Simonds and Natalie Willis are two of the four SAC players represented in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/Schutt Sports Division II National Player of the Year Watch List.. Courtesy photo

Staff Report