MUNCIE, Ind. — Former McKinney High School softball standout Jennifer Gilbert, a senior outfielder at Ball State, has been named one of 30 candidates for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award in collegiate softball.

To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

“I am very excited for Jenny to be named a candidate for such a prestigious award,” said Ball State head coach Tyra Perry. “She exemplifies everything a coach looks for in a player. She is an extremely hard worker who constantly strives to improve not only her game, but the level of play of all her teammates. Her sole focus is helping the team achieve its goals of winning the MAC Tournament and reaching the NCAA Regionals.”

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

Originally recruited to be a pitcher and a slapper for the Cardinals, Gilbert has developed into perhaps the greatest power hitter in Mid-American Conference history. Entering the third week of her senior season, Gilbert is already the league’s career leader in home runs (57), RBI (189) and runs scored (167). She also ranks in the top 10 on the MAC career charts in doubles (fifth with 48) and batting average (sixth at .377).

The two-time defending Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, Gilbert was one of 50 NCAA Division I players selected for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List as announced by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball.

Gilbert became first player in program history, and just the 13th different player in league annals, to earn All-America honors after being named to the 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America Third Team. She ranked 11th nationally with a MAC single-season record .451 batting average in 2013, while her school record .936 slugging percentage was the fifth best effort among all NCAA Division I players.

Gilbert recently completed her fifth year as a member of the Canadian National Team program, and her second as a member of the Canadian Women’s Senior National Team, where she has played a large role in helping the push to get softball back into the Olympics. She participated in discussions with International Softball Federation President Don Porter about how athletes can promote softball. She also served as one of Softball Canada’s representatives in the Google Hangout with WSN 24/7 hosted by Taylor Hoagland to promote the cause.

During the 2013 Canada Cup, she did several interviews about bringing softball back to the Olympics and how athletes and fans can help. She worked with Team Canada through a social media campaign to help send out info about the program and Olympics. She has also worked numerous camps for Team Canada to promote youth and girls involvement in sports.

At Ball State, Gilbert is one of the spokeswomen for the Cardinal Commitment Campaign to help raise funds for improved athletics facilities. She has been featured in video interviews, printed articles and other promotional material about the cause, speaking about the importance of improved facilities for the student-athlete experience and success of Ball State’s 19 athletic teams. She volunteers at the local YMCA to help promote physical activity in kids and has worked with Blood-N-Fire Muncie, which runs a monthly food pantry for local residents.

The 2014 candidate class will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.

The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Women’s College World Series® in Oklahoma City May 29 through June 4.

For more information on all the candidates, visit seniorCLASSaward.com.