SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Kristen Clark was named a Top 25 Finalist for the National Freshman of the Year award it was announced by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) on Thursday. She is the first ever Gaucho considered this honor.
Clark is in the midst of one of the greatest seasons ever by a Gaucho. She currently leads the Big West in both batting average (.427) and hits (67). With those numbers, she is on pace to crush the program's single season records of hitting .417 for 75 hits set by now UCSB assistant coach Christine Ramos in 2009.
While dangerous at the plate, Clark has proven to be as dynamic when she reaches base. The speedy outfielder has picked up 25 stolen bases this season (second in the conference) and has also hustled her way to a team-high four triples and an inside-the-park home run. Her swipes tie her with Jessica Soria for the sixth most in a single season.
Though only in her first season, Clark has looked anything but inexperienced, as she has tallied at least one hit in all but five games this season. Perhaps her best weekend came at the Louisville Slugger Invitational when she finished the tournament with a .818 batting average, which nabbed her Big West Field Player of the Week accolades.
Clark is one of three Big West players to make the Top 25 list, as Taylor Glover (Cal State Northridge) and Sierra Hyland (Cal Poly) were also listed. The list will be narrowed down to 10 on Thursday, May 8, while the top 3 finalists will be selected and released on Thursday, May 22. The inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy will be presented during a live ceremony on May 27 prior to the opening of the annual Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Riding a five game win streak, the UCSB softball team is in second place in the conference at 6-3. They will look to keep pace with first place Long Beach State (9-1) when they travel to UC Davis tomorrow for a three game series. Tomorrow's doubleheader is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start time.