As anticipation continues to grow for the start of the NCAA Division III Softball Championship, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced Wednesday six Linfield Wildcats named to the 2011 Division III All-West Region Team.
Honors went to pitcher Claire Velaski, catcher Emilee Lepp, third baseman Karleigh Prestianni, shortstop Emily Keagbine, left fielder Kayla Hubrich and designated player Staci Doucette.
The Linfield club, ranked No. 1 in the nation since the preseason, placed the maximum of six athletes on the first team in the region. This came after the ‘Cats wrapped up their eighth consecutive Northwest Conference regular season championship and won the inaugural league tournament to advance to the NCAA Division III Championships for the eighth straight year.
Velaski brings a 19-1 record into the postseason, totaling a team-high 106 strikeouts in 112 innings of work. She pitched eight complete games, and held opponents to a .217 batting average. Velaski was also an all-region honoree last season.
Lepp, the Division III all-time leader for most home runs in a single season (27), hit .497 with a school record 82 RBI this season. She registered the highest slugging percentage on the club (1.152), had 24 multiple-RBI games and also added 12 stolen bases. This marks her third selection to the all-region team.
Starting all 43 games at third base, Prestianni hit .379 with 38 RBI, 11 doubles and eight home runs over the course of the regular season and conference tournament. She also recorded a .978 fielding percentage with just two errors over 90 total chances. Prestianni was an All-American last season after setting the DIII freshman record for home runs in a single season.
Senior shortstop Keagbine ranked in the top-4 in the conference for five different categories this season. In addition to her 16 homers (3rd), she hit .455 (3rd) with 61 hits (t-4th), 54 RBI (4th) and 120 total bases (3rd). She was a second team all-region honoree as a junior and a third-team All-American as a sophomore.
In addition to leading the Wildcats in stolen bases with 14, left fielder Hubrich also posted career-best numbers in batting average (.409), hits (65) and RBI (17). She was also selected to the CoSIDA/Captial One Academic-All District Softball Team, carrying a 3.83 grade point average while majoring in exercise science.
Designated player Doucette led the conference in batting average, hitting .549 with 64 RBI, 18 home runs (second-most behind Lepp) and eight doubles. She ranks first in the nation in on-base percentage (.664) and fifth in batting average. She also started 15 games at first base. Last season, Doucette was chosen as an All-American.
All six Wildcats were also first team all-Northwest Conference performers this year, with Lepp being named NWC Player of the Year.
NEXT: Linfield opens NCAA regional play Thursday against Anderson (Ind.) at 10 a.m. CDT in Pella, Iowa.
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