Linfield’s first All-American men’s golfer Alex Fitch and four-time softball All-American Staci Doucette have been named the Linfield College Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year, respectively, following a vote of the coaching staff.
Fresh off the highest-ever finish by a Wildcat at the national tournament, Fitch caps off a prolific senior year with this latest honor.
Fitch made headlines all season long in the Northwest Conference and beyond, capturing medalist honors at seven events this season, including at the NWC Championships, and achieving runner-up status at the prestigious Texas Lutheran Intercollegiate Invitational. He was a four-time all-conference honoree, including as a junior in 2011, when he was named NWC Player of the Year.
Most recently, he placed 22nd at the NCAA Division III Championships, for which he was accorded third team All-American honors.
Statistically speaking, Fitch was equally as impressive, boasting the lowest average of all Division III golfers (entering the national tournament) at 72.16 strokes per round. Among Linfield standards, he recorded the third-lowest season average in program history and moved up to No. 2 on the career ladder at 74.95 strokes per round.
“Any time you lead the country statistically in any sport, you certainly will be considered for a top honor such as the athlete of the year,” said head coach Greg Copeland.
But Fitch excels in the intangibles, too.
“Alex is a pretty special athlete,” said Copeland. “He’s a great leader and a terrific role model for our younger players to emulate. Alex is pretty amazing.”
Fitch was humbled upon learning about the news. “Receiving this award is pretty cool. Considering the many other great athletes who are competing on sports teams at Linfield, it’s a staggering honor.”
Winning the athlete of the year award, he continued, “shows the respect the men’s golf program is enjoying. It helps legitimatize our program and that’s good for the long-range health of the program.”
Fitch graduates this month with a bachelor’s degree in business finance with a minor in music. He is the son of Ed and Susan Fitch of Redmond, Ore.
Doucette recently completed one of the most dominating careers in NCAA Division III softball history. Her coach, Jackson Vaughan, quite simply calls her the greatest hitter he has ever coached and probably the greatest Division III hitter of all time.
A three-time Northwest Conference Player of the Year and four-time first team NFCA All-American, Doucette led the NWC in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and home runs. She also broke the NCAA Division III record for career home runs and ranks second all-time in career runs batted in. As a senior, Doucette led the nation with 18 home runs and enjoyed the third-highest on-base percentage at .616.
“Staci is very well-rounded and is so good with what she does in our sport,” said Vaughan. “Obviously, she’s been one of the best hitters in Division III since her freshman year and continued that along all four of her years at Linfield.”
With Doucette in the lineup, the Wildcats won four NWC championships, three regional championships and one national title. Even with all of her remarkable success, she doesn’t take herself so seriously that she can’t relate well to others.
“She’s genuinely has a love for the sport. Especially as she’s gotten older she’s become a lot more relaxed. She has a high-level understanding of the game and has been able to help some of our younger players with their own skill set.”
Doucette graduates at the end of the month with a bachelor’s degree in history. She is the daughter of Tom and Ellen Doucette of Vancouver, Wash.
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