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Members of the Lady Bulldog softball team, standing from left, Adrianna Baeza, Gracie Puentes, Kali Crandall, kneeling from left, Kacey Thurman, Alexa Riggs and Elisa Cardenas, pose for a photo prior to the start of the New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s annual North-South Softball All-Star series Friday and Saturday at UNM Field in Albuquerque. The North won the series in three games, with the South taking Game One Friday night, 7-0, before falling 11-1 and 3-2 Saturday. (Photo Courtesy Sandra Pulido)

In its 33rd year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company has announced Kali Crandall of Artesia High School as its 2017-18 Gatorade New Mexico Softball Player of the Year.

Crandall is the first Gatorade New Mexico Softball Player of the Year to be chosen from Artesia High School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Crandall as New Mexico’s best high school softball player.

The 5-foot-7 senior right-handed pitcher led the Lady Bulldogs (29-4) to the Class 5A state championship this past season. Crandall owned a 15-2 record with a 1.18 ERA in the circle, along with a .424 batting average, eight home runs and 32 RBI. She struck out 115 batters and issued just 14 walks in 89 innings pitched. A two-time First Team All-State selection, she is also a four-time All-District honoree.

A member of the Altrusa service club, Crandall has participated in church mission trips and has volunteered locally on behalf of a youth softball program and a Vacation Bible School.
Crandall has maintained a 4.14 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball on scholarship at Oklahoma Christian University this fall.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls’ volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.

The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Crandall joins recent Gatorade New Mexico Softball Players of the Year Andrea Howard (2016-17, La Cueva High School), Santana Parra (2015-16, Centennial High School), BreOnna Castaneda (2014-15, Rio Rancho High School), Nicole Pendley (2013-14, Rio Rancho High School), Jasmine Casados (2012-13, La Cueva High School), Katera Eltsosie (2011-12, Volcano Vista High School), Karysta Donisthorpe (2010-11 & 2009-10, Piedra Vista High School), Melissa Martinez (2008-09 & 2007–08, Cibola High School), and Karisa Medrano (2006-07, St. Pius X High School) among the state’s list of former award winners.

As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Kali will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. 12 spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year.