COLUMBUS, Ohio – Just nine days out from opening the 2018 season, Ohio State junior shortstop Lilli Piper was named to the 2018 USA Softball Player of the Year Top 50 “Watch List”, the organization announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Piper, from Norton, Ohio, emerged as one of the most dangerous hitters in the Big Ten a season ago. The NFCA and CollegeSportsMadness.com third team All-American was third in the league in batting (.420) with 49 RBI, 44 runs scored, 16 home runs and a .784 slugging percentage. Through the postseason, Piper was hitting .438 with a pair of two-run home runs to go along with a .813 slugging percentage.
As a unanimous first team all-conference and all-tournament team selection, Piper led the Buckeyes in nearly every offensive category behind a .421 average, 18 home runs, 53 RBI, 75 hits, 47 runs scored, .787 slugging percentage and .436 on-base percentage. She set a program record for home runs by a newcomer and was just one shy of tying the single-season mark of 19 set by Sam Marder (2009) and Alex Bayne (2016). Piper had a team-high 24 multi-hit games and 15 multi-RBI games.
In 23 Big Ten games, Piper batted .430 and slugged a conference-best 10 home runs while driving in 22 runs and scoring 24 times. Her overall numbers ranked among the top 10 in seven different offensive categories as she was a first team all-region choice. In Ohio State's record book, her .421 average is fourth-best in a single season, 53 RBI rank fifth and 75 hits and 18 home runs are tied for second most.
With the help of Piper’s explosive offense, Ohio State went 35-18, 15-8 in the Big Ten and earned its second consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 35 overall wins and 15 in the Big Ten were both the most since 2010. After finishing third in the conference standings during the regular season, Ohio State advanced to the Big Ten Tournament championship game for the first time in 10 years.
The Top 25 Finalists for the 2018 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 25. While an athlete does not have to be on the “Watch List” to be considered for the Top 25, the eventual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will come from the Top 25 Finalists. The Top 10 Finalists will be announced May 9 and the Top 3 announced May 23. The 2018 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 29.