CCHS softball

The entire Camel team waits to celebrate at home plate with Natalie Clonch after she hit a home run against Cheyenne Central during the state championship game at the Energy Capital Sports Complex in May.

The Gatorade Softball Player of the Year awards have been announced for 48 states and the District of Columbia. The two states left out: South Dakota, which doesn't have sanctioned high school softball, and Wyoming.

The Cowboy State played its first season of softball sanctioned by the Wyoming High School Activities Association this past school year.

Gatorade has already announced the national softball award winner, Jordyn Bahl of Nebraska. In an email to the News Record, Gatorade spokesperson Luke Akinsola said the Wyoming state award would be announced in the coming weeks.

"Gatorade Player of the Year announcements typically follow high school sports seasons schedules," he wrote. "The coronavirus pandemic forced many states to delay seasons, condensing what is typically an eight-month announcement period down to roughly three months.

"While we've succeeded in ensuring every athlete is recognized for their achievements on and off the field, due to schedule inconsistencies across states, in some cases we are unable to announce all state winners at the same time."

In a second email, Akinsola retracted the statement that a Wyoming award would be given for the 2020-21 season.

"I sent my previous response too soon," Akinsola said in a follow-up email. "We're double-checking some details. Once we have those details confirmed, I will get back with you with the appropriate answer."

In a third email, Akinsola again stated an award would not be awarded to a Wyoming athlete.

"The Gatorade POY program's procedure for adding a sport in a specific state is to pilot the first year to see if the sport will be sustainable long-term," Akinsola said in the email. "For reference, this same process was also implemented when POY added softball in North Dakota in 2009, soccer in South Dakota in 2013 and volleyball in Vermont just three years ago.

"POY has been closely following Wyoming during its pilot year. If the softball participation numbers are high enough in the state, then a recommendation will be made to formally add softball to Wyoming. It's very likely this will happen, but we won't be able to confirm until later this year."

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