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February 26, 2013

Yale's Ong, Brown's Thompson Named Senior CLASS Nominees in Softball

Courtesy of Brown Athletic Commuications and Yale Sports Publicity

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Brown's Stephanie Thompson and Yale's Jennifer Ong are among the 20 candidates that have been announced for the Senior CLASS Award in the sport of softball.

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. The candidates must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

The 2013 candidate class includes 15 candidates who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Six were named to the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-American team, and seven were members of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America team.

The candidate class will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 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 finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Women's College World Series® in Oklahoma City, which will be held May 30-June 5.

A neuroscience concentrator, Thompson has maintained an impressive 3.39 GPA over the course of her time at Brown and, in 2012, she earned first team CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District honors as well as a spot on the 2012 Academic All-Ivy team. Additionally, Thompson has contributed to the community of Providence as well as to national causes that she has become passionate and connected to. She has also maintained a four-year relationship with the students at the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, an inner-city school in Providence, as part of a department initiative to match the university's student-athletes with local children. From 2009 to 2011, Thompson was a member of the Community Health Advocacy Program, helping to create health-related lesson plans that she then taught to local pre-schoolers to expand their understanding and awareness. Finally, she has been a yearly organizer of Brown's Homeruns for Homeless, a partnership between the softball and baseball teams that was formed in 2010 and raises money for Judy's Kindness Kitchen, an organization that helps the homeless in Providence.

Recognized as one of the country's top hitters, Thompson led the nation with a .504 batting average in 2011, and ranked 12th in the country with a .558 on-base percentage. She led the Ivy League with 13 home runs and was the top performer in nearly every offensive category for the Bears, earning her second-team All-Ivy honors and a selection to the 2011 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-Region team.

She was the 2012 Ivy League Co-Player of the Year and a first-team All-Ivy selection, compiling a.477 batting average, which ranked second in Division I softball. She also led the Bears in hits (51), runs (27), home runs (9), RBI (27) and total bases (90). Thompson also ranked third in the country as toughest to strike out, as it happened only twice in 2012.

In just three years, Thompson ranks second in the Brown record book for career home runs (24), second in career batting average (.438), fourth in runs scored (91), third in hits (156), second in doubles (37) and fourth in RBI (82). She was also selected as the Ivy League Player of the Week twice during the 2012 season and earned first-team All-Northeast Region honors.

Ong has excelled on the field, in the classroom and in the community during her time at Yale. She serves as a tutor and mentor for Squash Haven, an after-school program that provides individually directed academic enrichment, squash instruction and community service opportunities to New Haven public school students in grades 5 through 12. As part of the program, she serves as a mentor to one high school student. The two talk every week about academics, squash and other life events.

Ong also volunteers with Bring Relief Every Day (BRED), which is part of the Yale Hunger and Homeless Action Project. Once a week, Ong collects leftover bread from a dining hall and brings it to two local halfway houses. In addition, she is a veteran leader in Yale's Kiphuth Leadership Academy. The group meets four times during a semester to discuss with other student-athletes how to become better leaders both on and off the field.

On the field, Ong is fifth in school history with 28 career doubles. Last spring as a junior, she was an NFCA first-team All-Northeast Region selection. She finished third in the Ivy League in hits (54), fifth in batting average (.351), sixth in on base percentage (.409) and fifth in total plate appearances (171). One of only three players to start all 46 games, her 54 hits tied for the ninth most in a season in school history. The 2012 first-team All-Ivy second baseman and a two-time NFCA Scholar Athlete, Ong had at least one hit in all but eight games last spring and never went more than two games in a row without a hit.

In her sophomore year, Ong set the Yale single season record with 16 doubles. Her 0.38 doubles per game average was the third-best in the nation. In addition, she finished as the 39th toughest player to strikeout in Division I, striking out just eight times in 153 at bats. Ong has played in 117 games in her career.

More information on the Senior CLASS Award program can be found online at www.seniorclassaward.com.