LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Oklahoma’s Tiare Jennings was named the 2021 NFCA / Schutt Sports Division I National Freshman of the Year, the Association revealed during a live virtual presentation co-hosted by USA Softball on Tuesday night.
Jennings, the third Sooner to win the award, is one of many catalysts for the high-scoring OU offense. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year homered three times in her first collegiate game and continued to showcase her power in 2021. She is the nation’s top run producer with 84 RBI and 1.42 runs scored per game. Jennings, a top-10 finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year, also ranks in the NCAA’s top five in slugging (2nd / 1.059), home runs (t-2nd / 25), doubles (3rd / 22), hits (4th / 82) and batting average (.485). Hailing from San Pedro, Calif., Jennings flashes the leather at second and third base. She has made just three miscues in 106 chances for a .972 fielding percentage.
Jennings sits alongside four-time NFCA All-American Paige Parker (2015) and current teammate Jocelyn Alo (2018) as OU Sooners to receive the award.
Joining Jennings as top three finalists were Clemson’s Valerie Cagle and her Sooner teammate Jayda Coleman. It marked the second time (2016 – Amanda Lorenz & Kelly Barnhill – Florida) two student-athletes from the same program were in the top three. Prior to the announcement, Lorenz had a message for the finalists.
Previous winners of the Division I award are Annie Aldrete (Tennessee, 2014), Kasey Cooper (Auburn, 2014), Parker, Lorenz, Rachel Garcia (UCLA, 2017), Alo and Danielle Williams (Northwestern, 2019). The award was not presented in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NFCA / Schutt Sports Division I National Freshman of the Year award, voted on by the Association’s Division I All-America Committee, 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. With the cancellation of last year’s season due to COVID-19, eligible candidates hail from the 2020 and 2021 freshman classes. In 2021, the NFCA will award National Freshman of the Year honors to a student-athlete from NCAA DI, NCAA DII, N