Abbott is USA finalist

Lady Vol softball pitcher Monica Abbott has been named one of 10 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. She has already earned a number of honors this season, including national players of the week honors twice (USA and Louisville Slugger/NFCA) and Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week accolades on five occasions.

Statistically, Abbott leads all NCAA Division I players in wins (39) and strikeouts (495), while coming in fifth in ERA (0.56). In a statistic the NCAA does not rank players in, Abbott leads all Southeastern Conference pitchers in 20 opposing batting average (.124).

Earlier this season, the sophomore struck out the 1,000th batter of her career, an impressive feat only 27 players had accomplished in Division I history. She currently has 1,077 and with 495 this season is only five away from hitting the 500 mark for the second time in as many years. Prior to Abbott's first season at Rocky Top (582 strikeouts, a NCAA freshman record), no SEC pitcher had ever reached that milestone.

As a freshman, Abbott became the first Lady Vol to be honored as a finalist for this award.

On May 31, the list will be cut to three and those players will travel to Oklahoma City for the announcement of the winner at the 2005 NCAA Women's College World Series.

A replica of the award will be placed in a permanent display in the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, along with photos of the winner. An additional replica of the award will be presented to the player's academic institution.

Florida State's Jessica Van der Linden was selected as the 2004 winner after leading her Seminole=92s to the Atlantic Coast Conference title and a berth in the Women's College World Series. Past winners of the award include Stacey Nuveman (UCLA-2002) and Cat Osterman (Texas-2003).

This year's finalists are: Monica Abbott (Tennessee); Sophomore, Pitcher; Salinas, Calif. Caitlin Lowe (Arizona); Sophomore, Outfield; Tustin, Calif. Jessica Merchant (Michigan); Senior, Shortstop; Wayland, Mich. Cat Osterman (Texas); Junior, Pitcher; Houston, Texas Jennie Ritter (Michigan); Junior, Pitcher; Dexter, Mich. Kristen Rivera (Washington); Senior, Catcher; Perris, Calif. Heather Scaglione (Oklahoma); Senior, Catcher; San Diego, Calif. Amanda Scarborough (Texas A&M); Freshman, Pitcher; Magnolia, Texas Jamie Southern (Fresno State); Senior; Pitcher/Utility; Clovis, Calif. Kristin Vesely (Oklahoma); Junior, Outfield; Phoenix, Ariz.

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