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Western Kentucky junior catcher Kendall Smith bats during last season’s game against Middle Tennessee at the WKU Softball Complex.

Western Kentucky catcher Kendall Smith has been named one of 30 NCAA Division I softball candidates for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award.

The Bowling Green native is the second student-athlete in WKU softball program history in as many seasons to be named a candidate and is the lone honoree from Conference USA this season.

“Big congratulations to Kendall on a well-deserved honor,” WKU coach Amy Tudor said in a news release. “She has put up some impressive numbers both offensively and defensively and still has two years to continue to grow. While her achievements on the field earn most of the attention, we’re most proud of what she does off the dirt.”

To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

Smith is a sport management major at WKU and is on track to graduate in May 2021 with her bachelor’s degree. She’s earned a spot on the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll three times and landed a C-USA Academic Medal distinction as a freshman while also posting five semesters between the WKU Dean’s and President’s Lists.

In the community, Smith has found many ways to make her mark. As a part of the WKU softball team, Smith has visited elementary schools to read to students in addition to participating in an annual Southern Kentucky Special Olympics Softball game. She’s also a member of FCA and involved with the local softball teams between helping coach a travel team and giving lessons.

Across her first three seasons at WKU, Smith has tallied a .293 batting average, .546 slugging percentage, .392 on-base rate and .994 fielding mark. She’s started all 129 games of her career, racking up 104 hits and scoring 79 runs to go along with 90 RBIs. Smith owns 22 doubles, one triple and 22 career home runs in addition to drawing 56 walks and stealing 11 bases. She’s added eight sacrifice flies and five sacrifice hits as well.

Smith was named to the 2019 Conference USA First Team All-Conference Team and earned Third Team NFCA All-Region honors. In 2020 and 2021, she was a Preseason All-Conference USA Team selection.

The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists later in the season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.

2021 Senior CLASS Award Candidates

Sis Bates, University of Washington

AnaMarie Bruni, University of South Florida

Danielle Castleberry, Mercer University

Teaghan Cowles, Stanford University

Mia Davidson, Mississippi State University

Amber Fiser, University of Minnesota

Sydney Fisher, Radford University

Julia Fritz, East Tennessee State University

Darian Frost, Missouri State University

Rachel Garcia, University of California, LA

Kristin Hallam, Hofstra University

Jessie Harper, University of Arizona

Alexis Holloway, University of Notre Dame

Andrea Howard, University of New Mexico

Kristina Inouye, Stanford University

Karlee Johnson, Boise State University

Cayla Kessinger, University of Missouri

Jennifer Leonhardt, University of Louisville

Kendyl Lindaman, University of Florida

Goose McGlaun, Baylor University

Maddie McMahon, Siena College

Liz Murphy, University of Detroit Mercy

Bubba Nickles, University of California, LA

Makenna Partain, University of Minnesota

Kendall Smith, Western Kentucky University

Nicole Timmons, Drake University

Kelly Warren, East Tennessee State University

Kayla Wedl, University of Illinois at Chicago

Alea White, University of Central Florida

Sami Williams, Iowa State University