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Zerkle selected as finalist for USA Player of the Year

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Zerkle selected as finalist for USA Player of the Year

Marshall University sophomore Morgan Zerkle stars down a pitch during a game earlier this season.

Marshall University sophomore Morgan Zerkle stars down a pitch during a game earlier this season.

Shannon Stowers

Marshall University sophomore Morgan Zerkle stars down a pitch during a game earlier this season.

Shannon Stowers

Shannon Stowers

Marshall University sophomore Morgan Zerkle stars down a pitch during a game earlier this season.

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Marshall University softball player Morgan Zerkle was selected Wednesday as one of the top 25 finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, the Amateur Softball Association announced.

Zerkle is batting .500 this season with 33 hits, 20 runs, 20 stolen bases, six RBIs and a home run in just 20 games with the junior missing the team’s last 22 games due to injury.

With Zerkle out of the lineup, head coach Shonda Stanton said the team has felt her loss, but said she pushing herself to return as soon as possible.

“With her recent injury, we have witnessed the value of her hard work to return to playing,” Stanton said. “And we look forward to seeing Z (Zerkle) back in action.”

Zerkle’s success at the beginning of the season wasn’t when she made her name known, however, as it was a historic sophomore that gave Zerkle’s name national notoriety.

Last season, Zerkle played all 50 games and batted .506 with 89 hits, 62 runs, 28 RBIs, 47 stolen bases, eight doubles, four triples and a pair of home runs. Zerkle’s .506 average set a new program and conference record and also included a 27-game hit streak to start the season. The mark also ranked second in Division I, while her 47 stolen bases ranked first in Division I.

Zerkle was also handed myriad accolades for her performance, including being named to the All-Conference USA First Team, Capital One Academic All-America Second Team and College Sports Madness Conference USA Player of the Year.

Stanton said before her injury, Zerkle was on the path to similar numbers and honors this season.

“Zerkle followed up a sensational sophomore season on a record-setting pace to start the 2016 campaign,” Stanton said. “Her numbers speak for itself but do no completely tell the phenomenal caliber athlete we have in her.”

When Zerkle does return to the field, she will continue to close in on several milestone mark, including 200 career hits and the program record for stolen bases.

The number of finalists for the player of the year award will be narrowed to ten May 11 and three May 25 before the winner is announced May 31 before the start of the NCAA Women’s College World Series.

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