Lauren Haeger is the 2015 Honda Sports Award winner for softball, the Collegiate Women Sports Awards announced Wednesday.
"It was such an honor to hear that I was nominated for the Honda Award, so it was wonderful to find out I was chosen as the winner," Lauren Haeger said. "Thank you to the Honda Award program for sponsoring this honor which means so much to so many women’s collegiate athletes. I’d also like to thank my Gator teammates and coaches for all their support – it truly has been amazing to be a part of this program."
"First of all thank you to the Collegiate Women Sports Awards and Honda for this recognition of Lauren Haeger and her tremendous season on the softball field," Florida head coach Tim Walton said. "This is an outstanding accomplishment for Lauren for her great season and for the unbelievable career she had for the Florida Gators. This is a very prestigious award for both Lauren and all of her teammates who helped her achieve this award."
Haeger becomes the second softball player in Florida history to win the award, joining Kelsey Bruder, who did so in 2011. And she joins Kytra Hunter, who won the 2015 Honda Sports Award for gymnastics, to give Florida two 2015 Honda Sports Award recipients for the first time since 1982.
Florida's never had a female athlete make the Top Three (or Top Five) finalists for the Honda Cup, awarded annually to the nation's best women's collegiate athlete, since the 2004-05 inception of the Top Five format.
But Haeger and Hunter would seem to have great cases: Both led their teams to national titles with superb performances at the highest level, with Haeger being named Most Outstanding Player of the Women's College World Series after a peerlees week at the plate and in the circle, and Hunter won her second individual national championship as an all-around competitor while helping Florida's gymnastics team claim its third straight national title in the sport.
Only Tennessee, which produced Top Five finalists from softball (pitcher Monica Abbott) and basketball (forward Candace Parker) in 2006-07, has ever had more than one finalist for the Honda Cup in a single season, and no program has had multiple finalists since the organization moved to the Top Three format in 2009-10.
Florida swimmer Tracy Caulkins, who won the Honda Cup for the 1981-82 and 1983-84 seasons, is the only Gator to win the award, and was the first of just two women (she was later joined by UConn's Maya Moore) to win two Honda Cups.
Caulkins and gymnast Ann Woods each won Honda Awards in 1982, marking the first time Florida athletes took home multiple awards in a single year.