LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Stanford University’s NiJaree Canady, Duke University’s D’Auna Jennings and Indiana’s Taryn Kern are the three finalists for the 2023 TUCCI/NFCA Division I Freshman of the Year award, the Association revealed on Thursday afternoon. The winner, which is voted on by the Association’s Division I All-America Committee, will be announced on Tuesday, May 30, prior to the start of the 2023 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

Canady, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, is the nation’s leader in ERA (0.46), strikeouts per seven innings (11.8) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.00), while ranking third in hits allowed per seven innings (3.29). Over 106.1 innings of work, she is 15-1 and leads the Cardinal with 180 strikeouts and a 0.64 WHIP, while walking only 18 and holding her opponents to a miniscule .137 batting average. Canady, who has two no-hitters on her resume, recorded a season-best 18 strikeouts against Villanova, the most since Missy Penna’s school record of 19 back on March 23, 2009.

Jennings, the offensive catalyst for the fifth-ranked Blue Devils, leads the team in batting average (.471), stolen bases (21) and base hits (80). The NFCA First-Team All-Region outfielder also has six doubles, 47 runs scored, a .529 slugging percentage and a .497 on-base percentage. Jennings had a program-best 17-game hitting streak snapped in the NCAA Regional opener, but bounced back by going 7-for-7 in a pair of wins over Charlotte, lifting Duke to host its first-ever Super Regional against Stanford.

Kern, who earned First Team All-Region accolades, captured the Big Ten Freshman and Player of Year honors. The top offensive threat for the Hoosiers, she led the squad with a .404 batting average, 63 hits, 23 home runs, a .942 slugging percentage, 68 RBI, 68 runs scored, 45 walks and a .578 on-base percentage. Kern added 13 doubles, one triple and was plunked a team-high 22 times. She currently ranks tied for second nationally in home runs, is fourth in slugging and fifth in on-base percentage.

The TUCCI/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award was created in 2014 to honor outstanding athletic achievement among Division I freshmen softball student-athletes. To be eligible, student-athletes must be nominated by their member head coach and in their first year of NCAA Division I collegiate competition as a true freshman or redshirt freshman.

In 2023, the NFCA will award Freshman of the Year honors to a student-athlete from NCAA DI, NCAA DII, NCAA DIII and NAIA. For more information about all NFCA Awards, visit nfca.org.

Previous winners include Jordy Bahl (2022 – Oklahoma), Tiare Jennings (2021 – Oklahoma), Danielle Williams (2019 – Northwestern), Jocelyn Alo (2018, Oklahoma), Rachel Garcia (2017 – UCLA), Amanda Lorenz (2016 – Florida), Paige Parker (2015 – Oklahoma) and inaugural recipients – Annie Aldrete (Tennessee) and Kasey Cooper (Auburn) – in 2014.

The NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded TUCCI/NFCA Freshman of the Year Awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to a comprehensive drills database, to in-person events and National Convention.