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University of Tennessee at Chattanooga volunteer assistant softball coach Michelle Fuzzard was nominated Friday for the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year award for her senior season with the Lady Mocs. Fuzzard is one of only three Southern Conference female-athletes to earn a 2012 nomination from the NCAA.

"She is the true student-athlete," Head Coach Frank Reed said. "She does exceptionally well in the classroom, performed well on the softball field and is active in her community. She never compromised her value or work ethic to get to where she is today. She is a model athlete."

Fuzzard's name is among 429 female student-athletes from NCAA Divisions I, II and II who are recognized for their service and leadership, academic achievement and athletic excellence.

During her senior campaign on the diamond, the Huntington Beach, Calif., native was awarded SoCon Player of the Year for the second time in her career, named to the NFCA All-Region team and earned the SoCon's Female Athlete of the Year award.

After battling through a season-ending injury in 2010, the power hitter returned to Reed's lineup to shatter the SoCon career RBI and total bases records. Fuzzard drove in 217 runs and collected 453 total bases during her five years at Chattanooga.  Fuzzard helped the Lady Mocs to a .347 team batting average in 2012, putting Chattanooga first nationally for the second season in a row in the same category.

Off the field, Fuzzard spent over 270 hours as an intern at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute, providing assistance with the forensics and treatment team. She has been a three-year member on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) along with serving on the school's Gender Equity Committee.

Fuzzard graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and is currently pursuing her master's degree in the same field.

"Working through an injury and coming back to this team the way she did speaks volumes," Reed said. "She set standards even higher than before she left and conquered them. She is very deserving of this nomination because of her work. A student-athlete of her quality deserves to be recognized."

Of the 429 candidates, conferences will select one or two women from the nominees to represent their conference. Those names are then sent to the Woman of the Year selection committee, which chooses the top 10 honorees in each division.

From among those 30 candidates, the selection committee determines the top three in each division and announces the top nine finalists in September. Finally, members of the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will vote from among the finalists to determine the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year.

The top 30 honorees will be honored, and the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced, at the annual ceremony in Indianapolis on Oct. 14.


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