Information Provided by LSU Athletics
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – LSU senior outfielder A.J. Andrews and junior infielder Bianka Bell were among the 26 remaining finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award the Amateur Softball Association and USA Softball announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Because of a tie, 26 individuals have been named as the Top 26 Finalists for the award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's collegiate softball and recognizes the outstanding athletic achievement by female players across the country.
This is the first time LSU has had two players have made it this far into the process, as Andrews and Bell are the first LSU student-athletes to make the cut since Rachele Fico made it in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013. The duo now joins Fico and other former All-Americans Britni Sneed, Leslie Klein, Kristin Schmidt and Kirsten Shortridge as the only Tigers in program history to advance to the Top 25 stage.
Coming into this week, Bell, who leads LSU in eight different categories, is batting .512 on the season which is fifth nationally and second in the Southeastern Conference. The Tampa, Florida, native also clocks in first in the SEC in doubles per game (0.41), ninth in home runs per game (0.31), sixth in total home runs (12), fifth in on-base percentage (.564), fourth in RBIs (53) and RBIs per game (1.36), third in runs per game (1.31) and third in slugging percentage (.951).
In her final season in Purple and Gold, and the newest member of the Chicago Bandits of the NPF, Andrews is the nation's leader in triples with eight so far this year, averaging 0.21 triples per game which leads the SEC and is fourth in the country. Hitting a career-best .419, the Oldsmar, Florida, leads LSU with 17 stolen bases, averaging 0.44 per game which is eighth in the SEC. She's third on the team in multi-hit games with 12, as her dangerous bat has led to 32 walks, 12 away from setting a new school record.
This year's Top 26 is comprised of 12 seniors, 11 juniors and two sophomores and one freshman. The student-athletes selected represent 19 NCAA Division I universities and nine athletic conferences. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon and UCLA each have two players represented and Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Florida State, James Madison, Louisiana-Lafayette, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Notre Dame, UCF and Western Kentucky each have one member among the Top 25 Finalists.
Just prior to the start of post-season play, on May 6 the list will be narrowed to the Top 10 Finalists. The Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 20, while the winner of the 2015 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be revealed on May 26 prior to the start of the NCAA WCWS in Oklahoma City.