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Softball: Sanders Among Finalists for USA Softball’s Top Honor

LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball junior shortstop DJ Sanders was one of the 25 finalists named for the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, USA Softball announced on Wednesday.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, recognizes the outstanding athletic achievement by female players across the country. The recipient of this year’s award will be announced at the opening of the 2017 NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City.
"DJ is a special athlete and a special person who makes ‘Us’ all better," Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball head coach Michael Lotief said. "Player of the year represents more than just home runs and athleticism, which DJ clearly has. It’s about leadership, community service, academic excellence and humility.
"DJ has all the qualities and characteristics to be the player of the year. We are proud and blessed that she is a Ragin’ Cajun."
Comprising this year’s list of finalists includes 23 seniors, eight juniors, two sophomores and one freshman. The student-athletes selected represent 23 NCAA Division I universities and 11 athletic conferences.
Prior to the start of post-season play, the list will be narrowed to the Top 10 Finalists on May 10.
The Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 24, while the winner of the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be revealed on May 30 prior to the start of the NCAA WCWS in Oklahoma City.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives of 10 Division I Conferences in the 10 USA Softball Regions, members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country as well as past winners of the award.
Sanders is the nation’s current leader in home runs per game (0.57), home runs (20) and slugging percentage (1.047). Her 20 home runs represent a new career-high total, surpassing the 18 she hit just last season. Of her 42 base hits, 29 have gone for extra bases (9 doubles, 20 home runs).
The Columbus, Miss., native ranks Top 5 in RBI (50) and RBI per game (1.43). She’s been equally impressive in the field, committing only six errors over 97 chances (35 PO, 56 A, 6 E).
Her rise among the nation’s elite began during the 2016 season. In her sophomore campaign, Sanders saw a significant increase in power (from four home runs as a freshman to 18) and run production (from 27 RBI as a freshman to 58) and more than doubled extra base hits total from freshman season, finishing with 27 (8 doubles, 1 triple, 18 home runs) after 10 in freshman season.
For more information on Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball, as well as all of Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics, visit RaginCajuns.com. Fans can also follow along with the team on Facebook (/RaginCajunSoftball),Twitter (@RaginCajunsSB) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsSoftball).
Now in its 16th year, previous recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the most prestigious individual honor in NCAA Division I Softball, are UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman (2002), Texas pitcher Cat Osterman (2003, 2005 and 2006), Florida State pitcher Jessica Van der Linden (2004), Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott (2007), Virginia Tech pitcher Angela Tincher (2008), Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie (2009 and 2010), Stanford shortstop Ashley Hansen (2011), Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts (2012 and 2013), Florida State’s Lacey Waldrop (2014), Florida’s Lauren Haeger (2015) and Michigan’s Sierra Romero (2016).