Ashley Hansen was the only high school player invited to the U.S. Olympic tryouts, along with a handful of former Stanford softball players. The story goes how Cardinal coach John Rittman prodded a few of his former players to gauge Hansen's interest in attending Stanford.
It turned out Stanford had been her dream school for a long time and she was thrilled to know the school was interested in her.
It's turned into a pretty good match. Hansen was named USA Softball's Collegiate Player of the Year, the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) announced Tuesday.
Hansen becomes the first Cardinal to earn the honor and just the second non-pitcher in the 10-year history of the award.
"This is huge for Stanford and our program to have someone recognized as National Player of the Year," Rittman said. "I am so proud of Ashley and all her accomplishments. She is such a team player and very deserving of this honor."
Hansen collected career offensive numbers as a junior this season. She leads the nation in doubles per game (0.45), while ranking third in batting average (.495) and tied for ninth in on-base percentage (.558). The 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year, Hansen leads the conference in batting average, on-base percentage, hits (95) and doubles (25).
"From the first day that she set foot on campus, we knew she was not only a special player, but a special person," Rittman said. "If you are around her you see right away how likeable she is and how she just does things the right way. You don't become the player she is without a lot of hard work and dedication while learning from those around you."
Hansen recorded 29 multi-hit games and 10 multi-RBI games. She struck out all of five times. She ranks as the third toughest player in the nation to strike out. She set Stanford single season records for hits (95), batting average (.495) and slugging percentage (.797), while also ranking in the top-10 with 25 doubles (2nd) and 51 runs scored (t7th).
"My team has been there for me through thick and thin this year, really the past three years," Hansen said. "I know that it's not just me out there. I have eight other girls in the lineup who are capable of getting the job done and that takes a lot of pressure off of me."
Later on Wednesday, Hansen was named a First Team Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. For Hansen, it's her second career All-America honors.
The selection brings Stanford's total All-America award count to 29 honors spread over 14 players. The Cardinal has had at least one All-America selection each of the past 14 seasons.
Hansen is the sixth player in school history to be selected to the first team, after receiving second-team accolades as a freshman in 2009. She joins Jessica Mendoza, Sarah Beeson, Dana Sorensen, Catalina Morris, Lauren Lappin, Alissa Haber and Missy Penna as Stanford's repeat honorees.
Hansen was one of the 12 All-Americans from the Pac-10 Conference, and one of seven selected to the first team.