PELLA—Central College softball pitcher Mariah Fritz of Tama (East Marshall HS), a May graduate, is the American Rivers Conference nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Established in 1991, the award recognizes graduating female athletes who have distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their college careers.

Fritz is the eighth Central student-athlete to earn the league’s nomination for the award and the second in a row as Kate Patton was selected in 2018 for women’s track and field. Prior to 2006, honorees were chosen by state rather than conference.

A record 585 athletes were nominated by NCAA member schools for the Woman of the Year Award, including 192 from Division III. There were 148 chosen by NCAA conferences and a selection committee to advance, including 51 from Division III institutions. They represent 20 sports.

The Woman of the Year selection committee will next pick the top 30 honorees—10 from each division. The top three from each division will be announced in September with the winner announced at a ceremony recognizing the top 30 in Indianapolis October 20.

Fritz, an integrated studies major, graduated with a 3.80 cumulative grade point average. She was the American Rivers Conference co-pitcher of the year and a two-time league pitcher of the week. She also received academic all-league honors as well as 2018 CoSIDA academic all-district recognition and received the Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete Award.

Central’s LeRoy Timmer Most Valuable Player Award winner, Fritz was 20-9 with two saves in 32 appearances. She threw 172.0 innings, which ranks ninth in school history, and posted a 3.58 earned run average.

Fritz helped lead Central to a 27-10 mark, the program’s 13th conference title and a record 30th NCAA Division III tournament berth. She recorded all 12 of Central’s league victories.

Fritz was a second-team NFCA Division III All-Midwest Region pick.

Central’s Iowa Woman of the Year honorees

1995 Emilie Hanson, women’s basketball

2001 Candace Wilson, volleyball

2002 Angie Nielsen, volleyball

2004 Reagan Schultz, women’s track and field

2006 Katie Pederson, volleyball, women’s track and field

2011 Jill Halcomb, women’s track and field

2018 Kate Patton, women’s track and field

2019 Mariah Fritz, softball

Perry Bell can be reached at sports@journalexpress.net or by calling the Knoxville newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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