OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced Wednesday the top three finalists for the 11th Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. California’s Valerie Arioto, Arizona State’s Katelyn Boyd and Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts are the three athletes in the running. Each would be the first to win the award for her school.

Past winners of the award include UCLA’s Stacey Nuveman, Florida State’s Jessica Van der Linden, three-time winner Texas' Cat Osterman, Tennessee’s Monica Abbott, Virginia Tech’s Angela Tincher, two-time winner Washington pitcher/hitter Danielle Lawrie and 2011 winner Ashley Hansen from Stanford.

The 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Arioto currently ranks 11th in the country with a 1.32 ERA, third with a .968 slugging percentage and second with a .641 on-base percentage. Her 22 home runs rank sixth nationally and she is fourth in the country in runs with 64.

Arioto leads the NCAA in walks with 87, which is 26 more than second place. In California’s two wins against Arizona State to clinch the Pac-12 title, Arioto hit a walk-off home run in the first game and then pitched a shutout in the second game, striking out 11 Sun Devils. She was the only two-time recipient of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week award this season. 

Boyd was named first-team All-Pac-12 and was the league’s overall batting champion. She is currently second in the nation with 72 runs on the year and fifth with a .571 on-base percentage. Boyd’s .444 batting average is seventh best in the country and she ranks 12th nationally with 19 home runs. Including the postseason, she has started in all 57 games played. 

The Big 12 Player of the Year, Ricketts currently ranks eighth in the country with an on-base percentage of .566 and 13th with a .853 slugging percentage. She is 10th nationally with 48 walks at the plate. In the circle, she is fifth with a 1.05 ERA, third with 371 strikeouts and her 31 wins puts her 10th nationally. Ricketts is second in the nation by giving up just 3.64 hits every seven innings pitched. The southpaw has recorded 1,169 career strikeouts, putting her third on the Big 12 career list.

The winner of the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced on May 29 at the athlete only banquet prior to the start of the 2012 WCWS.

The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives from 11 Division I conferences in the 15 ASA regions as well as members of the media who consistently cover Division I softball across the country, and previous player of the year recipients.