Story courtesy of TLU Athletics
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Texas Lutheran senior pitcher Maitlin Raycroft is one of 50 softball players on the 2018 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year watch list.
The watch list will be paired down in the coming months, until just one player remains at the conclusion of the season.
Last season, in her junior campaign, Raycroft was one of the 10 finalists for the award.
In 2017, Raycroft became the new NCAA Division III national record-holder for no-hitters tossed in a season, hurling eight no-hitters in her 23 starts. The right-hander finished the year with a record of 21-3. Her win total set a new school record.
Raycroft finished in the top-five in the NCAA Division III for shutouts, with 14 (another school record), in strikeouts per seven innings, and in hits allowed per seven innings.
The 2016-17 TLU Female Student-Athlete of the Year, Raycroft finished the year with a school-record 219 strikeouts in 140-2/3 innings. She walked only 28, and opponents hit just .128 against her. Her final ERA was 1.29.
Raycroft, the 2017 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Pitcher and Newcomer of the Year, was a National Fastpitch Coaches Association Second Team All-America selection last year. Raycroft advanced to the NFCA All-America ballot after receiving First Team All-Region honors.
Raycroft already has been named a 2018 Preseason All-American by the NFCA.
The Bulldogs of 2017 went 38-6 and posted a school-record 38-game win streak. The team won its fourth consecutive SCAC regular-season title and its fourth straight SCAC tournament crown.
TLU qualified for a fourth consecutive NCAA Division III Softball Championship and finished as the Tyler Regional Tournament runner-up for a third time in four seasons.
TLU opens the 2018 softball season with a Feb. 10 home doubleheader against Huston-Tillotson University. The doubleheader begins at 1 p.m. at TLU's Ed Kruse Stadium - Morck Softball Field.
Twenty-nine returning NFCA All-Americans top the watch list, including 11 first-team honorees, 11 second-team selections and seven from last year's third team. The remaining 21 members of the group all earned first-team NFCA All-Region recognition last season.
Reigning national champion Virginia Wesleyan University and NCAA regional finalist Luther College have three players each on the initial list, including the Marlins' lefty ace Hanna Hull, who won both Schutt Sports/NFCA National Freshman and Player of the Year honors last season.
Eight others — Birmingham-Southern College, Moravian College, Salisbury University, St. Catherine University, St. John Fisher College, St. Olaf College, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Williams College — all have two players apiece, while 28 schools have one selection.
There are 24 seniors, 19 juniors and seven sophomores in the group.
The list is compiled annually by the NFCA's Division III All-America committee. The list will subsequently be cut to 25 and 10 as the season progresses, before the winner is chosen following the completion of the NCAA Championship.
The list will be adjusted along the way to assure the best players are being considered, with the eventual winner coming from the group of 10 finalists.
To view and download the full list, please click HERE.