PEMBROKE — Having already grabbed a number of postseason honors, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke senior softball player Natalie Klemann continued to add to her list of accomplishments on Friday as she was named a Peach Belt Conference nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.
Klemann, who will attend Campbell University Law School in the fall, turned in an 11-9 record and a 2.78 ERA in 2014 after striking out 61 in 133 2/3 innings of work. Klemann also put together a four-game winning streak in March and had five of her 11 wins against PBC opponents, while also continuing to set high marks academically.
“She really has set the standard for UNC Pembroke athletics and what we are about,” said UNCP softball coach Brittany Bennett. “When you see Natalie, you find one of the most driven, compassionate, well-spoken young ladies you will ever meet. She can make a lasting impression on you just by speaking with her. It doesn’t surprise me that she would be up for this award. In four years at UNC Pembroke, Natalie has immersed herself into what this community has to offer and given us such a special ability to connect. I know she is more than deserving of this honor and she really is a special young lady. I can only tell you how unbelievably proud I am of her.”
The Woman of the Year award honors graduating female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in academics, athletics, service and leadership. Of the 446 nominees, 205 competed in Division I, 75 competed in Division II, and 166 competed in Division III athletics. Each conference then selects up to two women from the nominees to represent the conference. The Woman of the Year selection committee selects the top 30 honorees – 10 from each division – from those nominees.
From that list of 30 candidates, the selection committee determines the top three in each division and announces the top nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will then vote to determine the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year. The top 30 honorees will be honored, and the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced at the annual ceremony in Indianapolis on October 19.
Klemann made 114 career appearances (69 starts) and totaled 31 wins and a 2.77 ERA with 37 complete games. She finished with a school record of more than 485 innings pitched, while also striking out a program-best 274 batters. She held opponents to a .259 batting average in 1,915 at-bats as well.
Klemann was also a member of many clubs around campus. Her roles included being the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where she pushed for student-athlete involvement through outreach programs including a local food drive, resume and interview seminars, increasing student-athlete support on campus and increasing the fundraising efforts for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“It is such an honor to be nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year,” Klemann said. “Words can’t express the happiness I feel for being thought of as a young woman and athlete of this caliber. I had the honor of being a part of a program that has not only influenced me athletically, but in my academics as well, and it is such a blessing because it has allowed me to develop into the woman I am today.
“I strive to always be successful in the classroom and on the field. UNCP has allowed me to personally become a better student with not only the support of my professors, but the support of my coaches and the entire coaching staff.”