JMU roundup: Softball star Ford named to prestigious ‘watch list’

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Junior Jailyn Ford of the James Madison softball team was recognized among the elite in collegiate softball as she was one of 50 student-athletes to be named to the “Watch List” for the 2015 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced Wednesday.

Ford is coming off a historic season for JMU Softball, becoming the first All-American in program history.

She was tabbed a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America Second Team selection in 2014 after going 24-7 with a 1.26 ERA, 233 strikeouts, 21 complete games, nine shutouts and four saves in 228.2 innings pitched. She set or tied JMU single-season records for wins, shutouts, saves, innings pitched and strikeouts.

Ford also hit .268 at the plate with a team-best nine home runs and 26 runs scored. She broke the program record with 34 walks while also hitting nine doubles and stealing nine bases. Aside from being an All-American, she was also recognized as the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) Player of the Year for the second straight year, named the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Pitcher of the Year and earned Colonial Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year accolades. She was also tabbed to the NFCA Division I All-Northeast Region First Team.

The pre-season “Watch List” includes 26 seniors, 18 juniors and six sophomores. The selected student-athletes represent 32 NCAA Division I universities and 13 athletic conferences. Ford is one of only nine nominees to represent a non-power conference institution.

The top-25 finalists for the award will be announced on April 8. An athlete does not have to be on the “Watch List” to be considered for the top 25, but the eventual Player of the Year will come from the top-25 pool of athletes. The top 10 will be unveiled May 6 and three finalists will be named on May 20, with the Player of the Year reveal coming on May 26.