Daniel star named national player of the year

Courtesy D.W. Daniel High School Facebook page

After leading the Lady Lions to a Class 3A State championship during her senior season, Daniel High School’s Carley Hoover was named the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year on Monday.

CENTRAL — The accolades continue to roll in for recent Daniel High School graduate Carley Hoover.

An All-State pitcher for the Daniel softball team, leading the Lady Lions to their first-ever State crown last month was just the beginning of what has been a stellar few weeks for Hoover, to say the least.

Just a few days after her graduation June 1, Hoover was named the Gatorade South Carolina Softball Player of the Year for the second year in a row, but the crown jewel of an already-packed high school trophy case came on Monday, when Gatorade announced Hoover had earned National Player of the Year honors.

Hoover, a Stanford University signee, was surprised with the news by former Cardinal and Olympic silver medalist Lauren Lappin.

“It felt great to surprise Carley with the news and invite her into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports,” said Lappin, a former US National Team elite member.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Hoover as the nation’s best high school softball player.

A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Hoover from nearly 373,000 high school softball players nationwide. Hoover 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 6-foot-2 senior right-hander led the Lions (24-4) to the Class 3A state championship this past season, posting a 16-4 record in the circle with a 0.15 ERA and 338 strikeouts in 138 innings.

A four-time All-State selection and the High School Sports Report Class 3A Player of the Year, Hoover batted .500 with four home runs and 45 runs scored.

Hoover has maintained a 3.84 GPA in the classroom. Also a volleyball standout, she was president of her senior class and has volunteered locally delivering food to the needy and coaching youth softball players.

“I think she’s the next great pitcher at Stanford,” said Derek Allister of OnDeck Softball. “She’s the kid who can get them to the World Series. She throws gas. She’s one of the few kids legitimately in the upper 60s. I think she’s a great kid and she’s tough, too.”

Gatorade has been honoring the nation’s top high school players for nearly 30 years.

“Without question, Carley is deserving of recognition as the nation’s best high school softball player based on her statistics on the mound and the impact her accomplishments have had on Daniel High School’s success,” said Gatorade vice president of global and sports marketing Andrea Fairchild. “But she is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young athletes of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. She represents everything we hope for 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 and 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 Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning, WNBA all-time leading scorer and rebounder Lisa Leslie, NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith, two-time beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh and three-time 200-meter World Champion Allyson Felix.