BEAVERTON, Ore. – Linfield College should be well represented Sunday, Feb. 12, at the 2012 Oregon Sports Awards, with one coach, one team and four student-athletes in the running for several prestigious awards. Winners will be announced during an evening ceremony held at the Tiger Woods Center on the Nike World Campus.
Softball head coach Jackson Vaughan is a finalist for the Stats Gill Sportsperson of the Year after leading the Wildcats to the 2011 NCAA Division III Championship. The softball club is also a finalist for the George Pasero Team of the Year.
Vaughan, who has led the ‘Cats to two national titles in five years and has amassed a 368-86-1 win-loss record in nine seasons as head coach, was recognized as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and Northwest Conference Coach of the Year at the conclusion of last season’s championship run.
As for his team, it wiped up the competition in 2011. Ranked No. 1 throughout the entire season, the ‘Cats (51-3) strung together 35 straight wins, captured an eighth straight Northwest Conference championship, claimed the inaugural NWC Tournament crown, wrapped up a second consecutive regional title and outscored their opponents 99-9 in regional and national action. Linfield’s unstoppable offense also destroyed its own NCAA Division III mark for home runs, just one of 40 school records broken en route to the national title.
Individually, Staci Doucette could repeat as the recipient of the female Ad Rutschman Small College Athlete of the Year Award after taking home the honor a year ago. That is, unless she is topped in the voting results by teammate Emilee Lepp, in contention for the same award.
Doucette’s name has become synonymous with success after claiming first team All-America citations each of her first three seasons at Linfield. One of the nation’s most feared hitters, last season she posted the country’s highest on-base percentage and ranked in the top five in batting average, home runs and RBIs. Doucette is Linfield’s all-time leader in six different statistical categories, including batting average, slugging percentage, and home runs.
Just as impressive in 2011 was Lepp, who reset the Division III record book for most home runs in a single season. Defensively, the catcher made just one error in 303 chances and allowed just four passed balls. She was recognized as the NWC Player of the Year, an all-West Region and All-America honoree, the Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year for Division III, and was a finalist for the Honda Award, given to the top student-athlete of any sport in Division III.
Not to be outdone by their female counterparts, two Wildcat men are in the running for the male Ad Rutschman Small College Athlete of the Year Award: football standout Drew Fisher and baseball star Tim Wilson.
Fisher, the 2011 Northwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-American, was Linfield’s top tackler this season. The safety totaled 76 tackles, five interceptions and four pass breakups to lead a Wildcat defense that topped the NWC in scoring defense, fewest yards allowed, interceptions and sacks. As a team, Linfield advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs for the second consecutive season.
In just one season at Linfield, Wilson made his mark, posting the highest single-season batting average in program history. The rookie outfielder led the team in slugging percentage and co-led the club in stolen bases despite not becoming a regular starter until the second half of the season. He was an all-Northwest Conference honoree and registered the highest batting average at the NCAA regional tournament, a feat that landed him on the all-tournament squad.
A total of five Linfield student-athletes have received the Ad Rutschman Small College Athlete of the Year Award since its introduction in 2001, including Doucette and former Wildcats Aaron Boehme, Brett Elliott, Tyler Matthews and David Russell.
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