NCAA Women’s College World Series history dates to 1982, when UCLA earned its first of 12 national championships.
The Most Outstanding Player award, which is given to the best individual WCWS player each year, was first presented in 1995. Since then, Arizona and UCLA have accumulated five MOPs, the most by any team. Oklahoma sits just behind with four. Of the 26 MOPs, 20 have been pitchers, with 13 being seniors.
Below is a year-by-year history of the WCWS MOPs, compiled from the NCAA record book.
|2018||Jessie Warren||Florida St.||Senior||Third Base|
|2017||Shay Knighten||Oklahoma||Sophomore||First Base|
|2011||Dallas Escobedo (co-MOP)||Arizona St.||Freshman||Pitcher|
|2011||Michelle Moultrie (co-MOP)||Florida||Junior||Centerfield|
|2008||Katie Burkhart||Arizona St.||Senior||Pitcher|
|2005||Samantha Findlay||Michigan||Freshman||First Base|
|1999||Julie Adams||UCLA||Junior||Third Base|
|1998||Amanda Scott||Fresno St.||Sophomore||Pitcher|
|1996||Jenny Dalton||Arizona||Senior||Second Base|
Rachel Garcia, UCLA | 2019
Rachel Garcia’s path to the 2019 WCWS finals pivoted during the June 2 semifinal game against No. 3 Washington. Ten innings of 16-strikeout, shutout ball came to fruition at the moment her bat launched a pitch over the fence. The walk-off, three-run home run sent Garcia and the Bruins to the finals. She added another home run in Game 1 of the finals against No. 1 Oklahoma.
She ended her WCWS career with a 5-0 record, 1.75 ERA and 33 strikeouts. She hit .333 with two home runs, eight RBI and five walks.
Jessie Warren, Florida State | 2018
Tying a WCWS record of 13 hits, Florida State’s Jessie Warren had a .520 batting average, two doubles, two home runs, four RBI and six runs scored in the 2018 WCWS. She helped lead the Seminoles to their first WCWS Championship Series. During Game 1, Warren hit a pair of doubles, then preserved the 1-0 lead with a seventh-inning diving catch off a sac-bunt attempt. The acrobatic play capped ESPN SportCenter’s Top Plays.
Warren batted 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored in Game 2. The 8-3 win over Washington gave FSU its first WCWS Championship.
Shay Knighten, Oklahoma | 2017
Shay Knighten came in clutch countless times during Oklahoma’s 2017 title run. She hit .350 with eight RBI in Oklahoma City. Game 1 of the finals saw Knighten knock a go-ahead three-run home run in the 17th inning. Game 2 followed with her go-ahead three-run double.
Knighten cruised to a career-best 12-game hitting streak through every game of the 2017 postseason.
Paige Parker, Oklahoma | 2016
As a sophomore, Parker led the nation in wins (38), placed second in shutouts (14) and 10th in strikeouts (269). In that same year, Parker won the 2016 WCWS MOP after pitching seven innings of one-run ball to beat Auburn for the championship.
Lauren Haeger, Florida | 2015
Lauren Haeger’s .571 batting average in Oklahoma City helped the Florida Gators to their first back-to-back national championships. From the circle, Haeger dominated with 24 consecutive victories to start the 2015 season. She ended the year with a 32-2 record and 1.23 ERA and hit .347 with 19 homers and 71 RBI.
Even more impressive than her 2015 MOP honor — she joined Babe Ruth as the only DI softball, DI baseball or Major League Baseball players to reach 70 career victories and 70 career home runs.
Hannah Rogers, Florida | 2014
Hannah Rogers needed only 80 pitches to lift Florida over Alabama in Game 1 of the 2014 WCWS finals. Her save in Game 2 clinched Florida’s first WCWS title, ending her NCAA tournament career with a 0.64 ERA.
Keilani Ricketts, Oklahoma | 2013
No. 1 seeds don’t always reach the WCWS finals. But No. 1 Oklahoma, led by Keilani Ricketts, won the championship in an exasperating battle with Tennessee. Game 1 went 12 innings, ending on Lauren Chamberlain’s two-run walk-off home run. Ricketts then drove in all of Game 2’s runs, including her 50th career home run, to clinch the 2013 championship and punctuate her career-best 21 game win streak.
Ricketts ended the 2013 season with a 1.10 ERA, 27-1 record and six no-hitters, a top-5 NCAA record for a single season.
Jackie Traina, Alabama | 2012
Jackie Traina threw every WCWS pitch for Alabama, even striking out 11 Sun Devils, the defending champions, to advance to the semifinals. The win placed Traina in sole possession of Alabama’s single-season record for wins (42).
Against Cal in the semifinals, Traina threw a two-hitter and batted 2-for-3 with a home run. She went 2-for-4 with three RBI in the Game 2 finals win over Oklahoma and drove in the series-winning run in Game 3. Thanks to Traina, Alabama became the first SEC team to become WCWS champions.
Dallas Escobedo, Arizona State & Michelle Moultrie, Florida | 2011
Co-Most Outstanding Players has only been awarded once. Arizona State’s Dallas Escobedo and Florida’s Michelle Moultrie secured the honor after duking it out in the championship series.
Escobedo hurled 35 innings, allowing 12 earned runs, 27 hits, 19 walks and striking out 38 batters during the 2011 postseason. She’s just the second freshman to win the MOP, after Michigan’s Samantha Findlay.
Moultrie batted .542 in the same span, going 13-for-24 with four home runs and seven RBI. Escobedo and the Sun Devils ended up winning the 2011 WCWS title over Florida.
Megan Langenfeld, UCLA | 2010
UCLA could not have clinched the 2010 WCWS title without Megan Langenfeld. Her 12-for-17 (.706) performance was the second-best total for one WCWS. Her 1.529 slugging percentage set a WCWS record. At the same time, she went 3-0 in the circle with 17 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings of work.
Langenfeld’s performance became Bruins lore when she homered twice, one of which was a walk-off in extras, in Game 1 of the WCWS finals. Add another home run in Game 2 and Langenfeld finished 6-for-8 with five RBI to seal the title.
Danielle Lawrie, Washington | 2009
Danielle Lawrie used her bat and arm to become the 2009 MOP. She shut out seven of the top-10 teams in the NCAA tournament, including No. 1 Florida in Game 1 of the finals when she struck out 12 Gators. Along with pitching the Huskies to a 3-2 win over Florida in Game 2, Lawrie went 2-for-3 with an RBI to secure the national championship.
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Katie Burkhart, Arizona State | 2008
Arizona State’s Katie Burkhard pitched back-to-back shutouts against Texas A&M in the championship series. Her 13 strikeouts in Game 2 tied the record for most in a championship game and ultimately led the Sun Devils to their first WCWS title. Burkhart finished her senior year with a 0.75 ERA and 41-5 record.
Taryne Mowatt, Arizona | 2007
Taryne Mowatt pitched eight complete games, tossed 60 innings and threw 1,035 pitches over the seven-day WCWS stretch in 2007 when she was the only Wildcat to pitch. Her tough workload led to several WCWS records, including victories (6), innings pitched (60), strikeouts (76) and complete games (8).
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If you think that’s domination, check what’s next. Mowatt’s 0.47 ERA limited opponents to a .163 batting average. Two ESPY Awards (voted by fans) for Best Female Athlete and Best Female College Athlete shortly followed her MOP honor.
Alicia Hollowell, Arizona | 2006
Alicia Hollowell started both semifinal games against Tennessee and both finals games against Northwestern. Through those 27 innings, Hollowell allowed one run over 15 hits — nine of those in Game 2 of the finals. She also struck out 45 batters in that span. Hollowell ended the year with a 0.89 ERA, which oddly became her second highest season ERA over her four-year career.
Samantha Findlay, Michigan | 2005
Before advancing to the championship series, Samantha Findlay went 2-for-3 with a two-RBI double in the 4-0 second round win over Texas. She then drove in all four runs in Game 2 of the championship series, including three RBI in the 10th inning to break the tie and win the title, 4-1. Findlay slugged .725 with 17 RBI and a .400 average throughout the NCAA tournament. She was the first freshman and first baseman to earn the MOP honor.
Kristin Schmidt, LSU | 2004
A 3-2 record across the WCWS doesn’t exactly spell out an MOP-type performance. But by looking a bit deeper at Kristin Schmidt’s statistics, you’ll find why she beat out many for the 2004 MOP award. She compiled a 1.72 ERA, allowing 10 runs, 36 hits and 10 walks over 40.2 innings. A series best 44 strikeouts over four complete games made Schmidt stand out from the rest. Finally, her 600 pitches and four complete games placed her in prime position to become the first MOP in history not to participate in the championship game.
Keira Goerl, UCLA | 2003
Six complete games over five days — that’s how Keira Goerl became the 2003 WCWS MOP. Her 9-inning no-hitter during the WCWS championship game punctuated her impeccable postseason performance. It remains the only no-hitter in WCWS championship game history. During the WCWS, she also broke the UCLA career victories record with 130 wins — 10th all time in NCAA history.
Jocelyn Forest, Cal | 2002
Finch and the Arizona Wildcats returned to the championship game in 2002, but Jocelyn Forest’s season could not be matched. Her 4-0 WCWS record with a 0.50 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 28.0 innings made Cal unstoppable. She out-pitched Jennie Finch, allowing just one hit through seven innings. The 6-0 victory was Cal’s first women’s team title in school history. Here’s Forest’s 2002 season in a nutshell: 29-12 record and 1.11 ERA.
Jennie Finch, Arizona | 2001
UCLA’s Amanda Freed pitched the WCWS title game again in 2001. She threw with better precision in the circle, but Arizona’s Jennie Finch was just a tick better, shutting out the Bruins, 1-0. Finch’s seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball included 7 strikeouts and, eventually, a union with the 2001 WCWS championship trophy.
Jennifer Stewart, Oklahoma | 2000
Like many MOPs before her, Jennifer Stewart was trusted with every pitch. She won all four Oklahoma WCWS games in 2000, giving up just two runs in 23 innings.
The championship game was a prime example of her skill. Stewart faced UCLA’s Amanda Freed in a pitcher’s duel. Both pitched seven innings, but Stewart allowed just one run on eight hits for the 3-1 win over the Bruins. It was the Sooners’ first national championship.
Julie Adams, UCLA | 1999
Shoulder injuries were an issue for Julie Adams. She redshirted during the 1998 season while recovering from shoulder surgery. Her bounce back was heavily felt during conference play in 1999, when she batted .341 with four home runs, 21 RBI and five doubles.
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Adams maintained her domination in the WCWS despite dislocating her left shoulder in the opening game against DePaul. In the championship game against Washington, she went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Adams is just one of two third baseman to earn the MOP honor.
Amanda Scott, Fresno State | 1998
In a career that included two national ERA championships and four All-America honors, Amanda Scott put Fresno State on the softball map. Back-to-back reigning champion Arizona challenged Scott and the Bulldogs in the 1998 championship game. But her precision in the circle was the deciding factor. Scott pitched seven scoreless innings for the 1-0 victory — the first WCWS title in Fresno State history.
Nancy Evans, Arizona | 1997
Nancy Evans was one of Arizona’s five first-team All-Americans from the 1997 season. She threw all five Arizona games at the World Series, helping lead the Wildcats to their fifth WCWS title and second back-to-back effort. In the championship game, Evans went 1-for-3 with three RBI, a double and a walk. In the circle, she pitched five innings, allowing two runs and five hits.
Jenny Dalton, Arizona | 1996
There’s only one second baseman to win the WCWS Most Outstanding Player in history. Jenny Dalton has reserved that spot. As a senior, she became the Pac-10’s first Triple Crown Winner by hitting .469, knocking 25 home runs and driving in 109 runners. Dalton led Arizona to its fourth WCWS title in 1996, going 1-for-2 with three RBI, a home run and two walks to close out the championship game. Years later she told NCAA.com, “That home run in the first inning was actually a miraculous mistake.”
“That home run in the first inning was actually a miraculous mistake.” @JennyDaltonHill reflects on the 1996 #WCWS, where she led @ArizonaSoftball to a National Championship and was named tournament Most Outstanding Player. pic.twitter.com/DaHNvI5yb6
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 27, 2020
*Tanya Harding, UCLA | 1995
Hailing from Australia, Tanya Harding spent one season with UCLA, leading them all the way to a title. She pitched and won all four games in the 1995 WCWS, posting a 0.75 ERA. She also batted .500 with six RBI. She left UCLA shortly after with a 17-1 career record.
*UCLA’s 1995 national championship was later vacated by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions