(Tallahassee.com) - Oklahoma City Lacey Waldrop tried to fight back tears as she gave her acceptance speech.
Tuesday night the Florida State pitcher was named the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year. She became just the second Seminole to take home the prestigious honor and the first since former softball legend Jessica van der Linden in 2004.
"It was funny because I wasn't nervous coming into it and then as they started to announce (the finalists), my heart just started to pound a little faster and faster, and I all of the sudden got nervous," Waldrop said. "It was just an absolutely amazing feeling, something that I could've never imagined. I dreamed of coming to the College World Series as a little kid, but I never dreamed of something this great. It's just a blessing."
The junior, who is 38-5 on the season with a 1.01 ERA in 2571/3 innings, led the Seminoles to a 55-7 record and their first NCAA Women's College World Series appearance since 2004.
So when the Chester, Va., native was announced as the national player of the year, her teammates erupted with cheers, while her coaches and the FSU softball support staff locked arms and began to sway back and forth in excitement.
"Feeling so much love from them and so much support from them was just the most amazing part," said Waldrop, who was earlier named the ACC Pitcher of the Year. "If you have something like this, it's so special to share with other people because I wouldn't be in this position without them behind me playing defense, offense and just being confident in my abilities. It was just an amazing moment to share with them."
Waldrop was one of three finalists in Oklahoma City for the presentation of the award. Michigan shortstop Sierra Romero and UCLA pitcher and utility player Ally Carda were also candidates.
And when it came time to announce the winner of college softball's highest individual honor, Waldrop and many of the Seminoles thought it was going to someone else.
"When he announced the winner he said, 'the University of,' so right away your heart kind of sunk a little bit," FSU coach Lonni Alameda said. "And then he said, 'Florida State,' and the team was really excited and the whole staff in the back, their arms were locked and they were moving back and forth and were pretty pumped about it."
Just an hour before Waldrop won the award, the FSU ace admitted that she was "shocked" she was one of the three finalists. Even after taking the award back to her hotel, she tried to make a case for why one of her teammates was more deserving.
"When you look at the team and the accomplishments we've achieved this season and where we're at this season, it goes down to a lot of heart," Alameda said, "but Lacey's been the backbone of it all along. Every member of this team fully believes she deserves this honor, so eventually she will believe it herself. It's an outstanding honor for her."
The modest star will have her parents, Beth and Chuck Waldrop, along with her longtime travel ball coach, Kelly Robinette, in the stands this week as the eighth-seeded Seminoles try to make a run in the College World Series.
FSU faces No. 1 Oregon on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.