BENTONVILLE, Ark. (GAC) - Southeastern Oklahoma State and East Central each placed seven on the 2013 Great American Conference All-Conference Teams leading the representation for the 39 student-athletes recognized following a vote of the league's head coaches.
The all-conference teams and individual superlative winners received their awards Wednesday at the GAC Softball Championship Tournament welcome picnic in Bentonville.
The Savage Storm and the Lady Tigers collected all five of the individual awards. Southeastern's top two pitchers, Jacee Bennett and Mindy McElroy, received the GAC Pitcher of the Year and Newcomer of the Year award, respectively. Head coach Ron Faubion won GAC Coach of the Year. East Central's Shelby Simmons won Player of the Year while Lacey Paulk won Freshman of the Year.
Bennett and McElory combined for 38 of the Savage Storm's 40 victories. Bennett finished the regular season atop the conference in wins (20) and saves (8). Her 175 strikeouts ranked second in the GAC. McElory enters the GAC Championship with a league-leading 1.74 ERA and she has held the opposition to a .244 batting average, the second-lowest in the league.
Southeastern's catcher Courtney Moore landed on the First-Team All-GAC for the second-straight year. Second baseman Jessica Simmons, shortstop Lacie Cook and outfielder Laramie Beal made the Second Team. Courtney Riddle, an outfielder, received Honorable Mention.
Simmons spearheaded the GAC's top offense by leading the league in average at .476. She tied for the league lead with five triples and her .503 on-base percentage ranked second. She also ranked second with 68 hits. Paulk posted a sparkling 17-2 record in her first year in Ada. She led the league in opponent's batting average at .236 and her 2.14 ERA trailed only McElroy.
East Central's catcher Gina Mengwasser joined Simmons and Paulk on the First Team. The Tigers placed three on the All-GAC Second Team - second baseman Chelsea Patteron, third baseman Ali Manship and outfielder Leah Tigert. Fellow outfielder Jordan VanPelt earned Honorable Mention recognition.
Arkansas Tech received the next highest total of honorees with five. First baseman Siarra Gomez and outfielder Whitney Robinson made the First Team. Pitcher Rachel Keeton earned Second-Team honors. Fellow pitcher Victoria Huie and designated player/utility Shanna Davidson received Honorable Mention.
Arkansas-Monticello and Southern Arkansas each placed four on the All-GAC squads and both the Cotton Blossoms and Lady Muleriders had a pair of First-Team selections. From UAM, designated player/utility Maggie Sands made the First Team for the second straight year and outfielder Beth Johnson, a 2012 Honorable Mention selection, landed on the First Team. The battery of pitcher Katie Slaughter and catcher Brittany Eitel received Second Team honors.
Hanna Gill, Southern Arkansas' lone All-GAC representative in 2012, led four Lady Muleriders to receive postseason honors this year. Gill and designated player/utility Kelci Garza made the First Team. Catcher Sarah Higginbotham made the Second Team and third baseman Brittany Wood received Honorable Mention.
Southern Nazarene's Amy Madden and Kylie Lang became the program's first All-GAC First-Team performers. Madden ranked second in the league in home runs (14) and slugging percentage (.742). Lang finished the regular season leading the GAC in hits with 71 and her .425 batting average ranked third. Catcher Katie Spencer made the Honorable Mention team.
Southwestern Oklahoma State and Henderson State also placed three on the All-GAC team. The Lady Bulldogs' Audra Chambless made the First Team at second base. SWOSU outfielders Kori Oord (Second Team) and Summer Blackowl (Honorable Mention) earned postseason accolades.
The Lady Reddies' Kayla Williams, at pitcher, and Amber Wilburn, as designated player/utility, made the Second Team. HSU's Sarah Gipson received Honorable Mention.
Ouachita Baptist first baseman Megan Askew rounded out the Second Team and Northwestern Oklahoma State's Allora Miller and Jessica Sandoval received Honorable Mention.