The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year balloting involves all NCAA-member institutions, with nominees selected from among 12 women chosen as the most outstanding in their sports during the school year. This is the top award given by the Collegiate Woman Sports Awards. American Honda Motor Co., Inc. sponsors the Awards Program.
"UCLA softball is thrilled that Natasha Watley was chosen as the top female athlete in the country," said head softball coach Sue Enquist. "Natasha's excellence transcends the softball field. She not only is a great softball player, but is an incredible student-athlete with character and class."
Watley, a senior shortstop from Irvine, California, batted .440 in the Women's College World Series as UCLA won the NCAA Championship. For the season, she hit .481 with 10 home runs, scored 64 runs and stole 35 bases. This marked her third consecutive season with 100-plus hits, giving her 395 for her career, the third-best all-time in NCAA history. Her 252 career runs scored is fifth-best in NCAA history, while she ranks in the NCAA's top-10 in career stolen bases with 158. She finished her UCLA career with a .450 batting average, good for seventh-best in NCAA Division I history.
She was selected as the 2003 Pac-10 Player of the Year, and was an NFCA first-team All-American and first-team All-Pacific Region selection at shortstop for the fourth time in her career. She was also named All-Tournament at the Women's College World Series, a tournament where she had the game-tying RBI and scored the game-winning run in UCLA's second semifinal victory over Texas. With a triple in the NCAA Championship game, Watley recorded the 21st triple of her UCLA career, tying the school record and giving her second in Pac-10 history. The Bruins went on to defeat Cal, 1-0, in nine innings for UCLA's 10th softball National Championship.
"I am extremely honored," said Watley. "It was great to win the Honda Award for softball, but to be the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and winning the Honda-Broderick Cup just tops it all off. To be in the company of the people who have won this award previously and to have my name listed with a person like Lisa Fernandez is unbelievable."
Watley is the second softball player and fourth Bruin to win the Honda-Broderick Cup. She joins Ann Meyers (Basketball, 1977-78), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Track and Field, 1984-85) and Lisa Fernandez (Softball, 1992-93) as Bruins who have won the prestigious award.
"UCLA is so proud to have Natasha Watley representing the institution in the Honda sports program and to be named the winner of the Honda-Broderick Cup," said associate athletic director Betsy Stephenson. "Natasha has made an indelible mark on our softball program and joins a very distinguished group of previous sports winners and Broderick Cup winners."
Natasha Watley went to play for Team USA in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, assisting the team to a Gold Medal. - (Updated 1/07)