MERCED, Calif., June 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — In its 31st year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Madilyn Nickles of Merced High School (Merced, Ca.) as its 2015-16 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year. Nickles was surprised with the news at school by two-time Olympian Jennie Finch.
“It felt great to surprise Madilyn with the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award and welcome her into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports,” said Finch. “Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these student-athletes.”
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Nickles as the nation’s best high school softball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Nickles from nearly 364,000 high school softball players nationwide. She is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
The 5-foot-8 senior right-handed pitcher and shortstop compiled a 20-5 record in the circle along with a 0.63 ERA this past season, leading the Bears (22-7) to the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Division I Tournament in the one-loss elimination bracket. Nickles struck out 308 batters in 167.1 innings pitched, allowing 81 hits and issuing just 28 walks en route to nine shutouts and three no-hitters. At the plate, she batted .552 with 20 doubles, eight home runs and 27 RBI to finish with a 1.126 slugging percentage and zero strikeouts in 104 plate appearances. Nickles was the only junior on the 2015 USA Junior National Team and she was the only high-school-age player invited to train with the 2016 USA Women’s National Elite Team.
Nickles has maintained a 3.97 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally as part of multiple community-service initiatives through her school’s Rotary International Interact Club. Nickles has also donated her time generously to youth players, serving as a volunteer assistant for the past four years with both ASA Development Camps as well as Nike Softball Camps. In addition, she has coached and advised area U-12 to U-14 players on an individual basis and served as an instructor at USA Softball Youth Camps.
“Madi has become a once-in-a-decade type player,” said recruit evaluator and FloSoftball General Manager Brentt Eads. “She owns a rare combination of physical skills, fierce competitiveness and a work ethic second to none. Madi’s strength is her versatility. She’s a shutdown pitcher, a dangerous hitter and can play any position but catcher.”
Nickles has signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball on an athletic scholarship at UCLA beginning this fall.
“Madilyn is an exceptional student-athlete who has earned recognition as the nation’s best high school softball player while also excelling in the classroom and making a difference in her community,” said Gatorade Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley. “Madilyn’s statistics on the field speak for themselves, but even more impressive is the impact she has had on her teammates and the example she sets for younger student-athletes. Madilyn represents everything we look to celebrate in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:
For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of former winners, and future announcement dates, visit the Gatorade Player of the Year website at http://www.gatorade.com/poy, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.
SOURCE The Gatorade Company