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AWARD: Prather named finalist for NFCA's top award

Thursday, May 11, 2017

TYLER – UT Tyler senior Kaylee Prather leads the nation with 77 hits and is one of 10 finalists for the 2017 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year honors.

A center fielder from Elysian Fields, Prather is hitting .510 with 10 doubles, five triples, two home runs and 50 singles entering the NCAA Division postseason where the Patriots will open against La Verne at 1 p.m. on Friday at Suddenlink Field. Prather, who was named the American Southwest Conference Player of the Year, has hit safely in 39 of 43 games this season with 27 multi-hit performances and is fourth in the nation with 56 runs scored.

Just three student-athletes remain from the initial list of 50 released on March 10 — Virginia Wesleyan junior Cassetty Howerin, Averett senior Jessica Long and St. John Fisher junior Lindsey Thayer. Prather, who hit .430 (71 hits) as a junior during the national championship run, was not on the original list for player of the year. The other seven finalists were added when the list was updated on April 21 to better reflect the best 25 players in Division III this season.

Current NFCA Top 25 leader Virginia Wesleyan has two players — Howerin and freshman Hanna Hull — on the list, while everyone else has one each.

The other players on the list are Salisbury junior LeAnn Collins, East Texas Baptist sophomore Linzie Lewis, Texas Lutheran junior Maitlin Raycroft, Kean senior Emily Sabo and Luther junior Anna Strien.

Three 2016 NFCA All-Americans remain on the list — first teamers Howerin and Thayer, plus third teamer Long. Of the remaining seven members of the group, Lewis, Prather and Strien earned NFCA All-Region recognition last season. Among the other three, Hull and Raycroft were not in Division III last year. UT Tyler pitcher Kelsie Batten won the award last year.

The list is a collaborative effort between the NFCA’s Division III Head Coaches and All-America committees. The winner will be revealed following the conclusion of the season.

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