UF's Bruder named nation's top softball player

Published: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 1:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 1:10 p.m.

Florida senior Kelsey Bruder has won the Honda Sports Award in softball, designating her as the nation's top collegiate female athlete in that sport.

The honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of The Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 35th year.

“Winning the Honda Sports Award is such an incredible honor,” Bruder said. “To be recognized as the best player in college softball seems absolutely surreal and I could not be more grateful to be among both the past and present Honda Sports Award nominees and recipients. Receiving this award would not have been possible without every single one of my teammates.

“I am so blessed to have played with these tremendous athletes. I'd also like to thank our coaches, the faculty and the UF administration for their unwavering support, and The Collegiate Women Sports Awards program for its recognition of women's college athletes. Most importantly, I'd like to thank Gator Nation for the best four years of my life.”

A native of Corona, Calif., Bruder led the Gators to the Women's College World Series this year, where they were defeated by Arizona State in the championship series, marking the team's fourth straight WCWS appearance – the first SEC team to accomplish the feat. She was named to the WCWS All-Tournament Team and is a two-time All-American (2009, 2011). She was selected 2011 SEC Player of the Year, as well as a two-time All-SEC selection. The two-time USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week, ranked sixth in the NCAA in runs per game and 19th in the country in home runs. She had two walk-off hits in Florida's series over SEC rival Alabama, enabling the Gators to take the series. She had strung together a career-long 14-game hit streak.

Bruder is part of the “winningest class” in UF, leading the SEC through league play in runs (32), doubles (10), slugging percentage (.883), hits (40), RBI (36) and home runs (11). She tops Florida's all-time list for total bases in a season (152) and her 79 runs in 2011 is a single-season school record. She was also a part of the NCAA-record 70 wins her freshman year in 2008 and has been a part of just 33 losses in her four-year tenure at Florida.

Bruder is a two-time Academic All-American (2010, 2011). She carries a 3.70 GPA as a Health, Education & Behavior major, and will earn her undergraduate degree following an internship in December. She is currently playing softball professionally in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league with the USSSA Florida Pride, based out of Orlando, Florida.

The Honda Sports Award is given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, along with automatic eligibility to become a “Top Three” finalist for Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year. Bruder was voted over three other nominees for the 2011 award: Ashley Hansen, a junior at Stanford University, Jolene Henderson, a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley and Chelsea Thomas, a sophomore at the University of Missouri. The nominees in softball were selected by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

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