Baseball, softball steal majority of NWC honors
For the Review
The Northwest Conference all-league baseball and softball teams were announced May 7, and Linfield athletes were center stage with the most all-conference nominations.
The baseball team went 25-7 in conference play on its way to capturing its first conference title since 2005.
The softball team did equally well. Its 25-3 record, including a 19-game winning streak, earned the program its fifth consecutive conference title.
Having the best teams in the conference gave both programs a good chance at slotting several players to the all-conference teams.
Seventeen Linfield athletes were named to the all-NWC first and second teams, and eight received honorable mentions.
Two Wildcat pitchers won the honor of NWC Pitcher of the Year.
Senior right-hander Brian Clark was the staple of consistency for the ’Cats, going 9-1 in 11 starts for Linfield. He led the conference with seven league wins and held his opponents to a batting average of .223, giving up only 60 hits in 76.1 innings pitched.
“Winning the award is a real honor,” Clark said. “It shows that you made an impression on a lot of people during the season. The hard work that my teammates and I put in to get where we are is a testament to the team as a whole. As a pitcher you cannot win an award like that without a great defense behind you and an offense that gives you support. We had all of that this year.”
For the second consecutive year, junior right-hander Brittany Miller took home the honor as the conference’s best pitcher. Miller shutdown opponents’ entire offensive productions, putting up a 1.36 ERA in her 14 NWC appearances. She struck out 111 of the 262 NWC batters who stepped up to the plate. Miller also received recognition beyond the NWC with a nod to the All-West Region team by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
“It was great to see her win the award again,” Vaughan said. “She had a tough year with injuries, but she was able to dominate games for us, especially against conference.”
Both head coaches earned NWC Coach of the Year recognition.
First-year head coach Scott Brosius had high expectations for the squad with so many returning players. He took his new group to the top of the NWC, finishing with a 30-10 overall record and earning a bid to the NCAA regional tournament in Illinois.
Vaughan had a lot to live up to with last season’s national championship. Keeping the ’Cats ready for every opposing team’s best shot would be his main objective through the season. In the seven years as the softball team’s head coach, Vaughan has amassed five consecutive NWC Coach of the Year awards.
“It’s a team award,” Vaughan said. “It’s indicative of the team’s success. Winning it again is nice, but our goal is always to win conference and get to nationals. Every year has new challenges, but the goals never change.”
Four Wildcats earned first-team honors. Clark and freshman relief pitcher Robert Vaughn were named for their pitching, and seniors second baseman Shannon Chung and catcher Drew Van Cleave round out the first-team Wildcats.
Vaughn had six saves on the season to lead the Wildcats. He threw 17 strikeouts in only 15.2 innings.
Van Cleave led Linfield in hitting with a .367 batting average in 38 games and in RBIs with 38.
Chung went two for three at the plate and scored a run in the conference title game against George Fox University April 28. He held a .342 batting average through the season.
Earning second-team honors for Linfield were starting pitchers junior Cameron Larson and sophomores Garrett Dorn and Reese McCulley.
Seven Wildcats were named to the honorable mention list, including seniors Brian Kerr, Ricky Gonzalez, Kevin Mills and Josh Guterman. Juniors Cory Ellis and Stew Davis also made the list, as did sophomore Kyle Mosbrucker.
For the softball team, six women were named to the conference’s first team, including four of the five infield spots.
Miller earned one of two pitchers’ spots on the first-team list.
Senior outfielder Stephanie Rice played in every game this season, hitting .416 with 19 stolen bases. Rice and fellow Wildcat senior Jenny Marshall were named to the 2007 Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III All-American Team last year during the ’Cats national title run.
Seniors Marshall, Amanda Attleberger, Meredith Brunette and Erica Hancock, like all the other Linfield first-team mentions, received their second consecutive first-team honors.
Attleberger batted .372 and had one error in 44 games this season at first base.
Marshall set Linfield’s single season batting average record last year, hitting at a .448 rate. She obliterated that record this year, upping it to a .528 average in the NWC.
Marshall led the Wildcats in hits (76), runs (62) and stolen bases (20). She was caught stealing only once and had no errors in her 44 games at second base.
Senior shortstop Meredith Brunette batted .394 with a team-leading eight homeruns on the year.
Senior third basemen Erica Hancock rounds out the first-team for the Wildcats. She too started every game for the ’Cats and averaged a .327 batting average with 49 hits.
Named to the NWC’s second team was junior pitcher Kendra Strahm and freshman catcher Emily Keagbine.
Strahm went 16-2 in her junior season. She and Miller were the Wildcats’ top two pitchers, totaling a 33-5 record together.
Keagbine helped Linfield’s pitcher shut down offenses while being on the other side of the plate in 42 games this season. She drove in 42 runs for the ’Cats powerful offense.
Rounding out the league’s honorable mention was freshman utility player Alex Hartmann, who batted .301 with 12 doubles.