SALEM, Virgina - As was the case with all-region selections, domination was the name of the game in Division III softball this season. This was undoubtedly in evidence as the NFCA named its 2011 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division III All-American teams Thursday night at the national championship banquet in Salem, Virginia. Linfield, the No. 1 seed entering the national championship as well as the No. 1-ranked squad all season in the NFCA Division III Top 25, placed six athletes, the maximum number allowed, on the All-American squad, with four of those nods coming on the first team. Of the eight teams at the championship, which have all seen national tournament action before, just five placed athletes on the All-American squad. In all, a total of 30 teams across the country claim one of the 45 spots.
That being said, other than Linfield, only one school (Central, who was ousted by Linfield in the Pella regional) placed multiple athletes on the first team all-American squad. Linfield's home run hitting trio of first teamers includes designated player Staci Doucette, shortstop Emily Keagbine and catcher Emilee Lepp. The three Wildcats are all in the top four in home runs in the country and for the second straight year lead a lineup that is No. 1 in the nation in both batting average (.400) and home runs (95). Doucette, a junior who is receiving her third first-team nod, leads Linfield with a .548 batting average. She led the nation in on-base percentage at .663 and was third in batting average, home runs (20) and RBIs (72). Keagbine receives her second All-American award, was tied for fourth in the nation with 17 home runs and is batting .455 with 13 doubles and 59 RBIs entering the tournament. Also a second-time All-American, Lepp might have the most impressive power numbers, setting the single season Division III home run record, currently at 29 and five better than the previous nine-year old record. She leads the Wildcats with 89 RBIs, 69 runs scored and 78 hits. No slacker herself, outfielder Kayla Hubrich is the other Wildcat named to the first team. While the other three provide the power, leadoff hitter Hubrich provides the spark while batting .415, stealing 14-of-15 bases and scoring 63 runs while not making an error in 26 chances in left field.
Central's first team combo includes utility player Kiley Lythberg and at-large nod Katie Tenboer. Lythberg split time at several spots for the Dutch, including designated player and first base, but most of her contribution came from the circle. The senior went 20-7 with a 2.47 ERA, with opponents hitting just .239 off of her. She was second on the team in batting average (.387), picking up 48 base hits, eight doubles and driving in 31. Tenboer, who picks up her second All-American award, led the Dutch with a .414 average, seven home runs and 48 RBIs. Also a senior, the first baseman made just two errors in 353 chances at the corner.
Eastern Connecticut and Christopher Newport are both repeat national championship participants from a year ago, and both boast a first-teamer. Eastern Connecticut relies heavily on first team pitcher Molly Rathbun. As a junior, this is her third All-American award. Rathbun was fourth in the nation with a 0.72 ERA and 253 strikeouts, while also leading the Warriors at the playe with a .423 average with eight home runs. Christopher Newport's Jessie Atkinson gets her second first-team nod at third base. She leads the Captains with a .433 average and 53 RBIs and is the program's all time home run leader with 15 on the season.
The multiple All-American award trend continues with Cortland State's Donnalyn Cross in an at-large spot. The second baseman is a three-time first team All-American and has led the Red Dragons to national championship appearances in three of her four seasons. The three-time SUNYAC player of the year leads her squad in almost every offensive category, including a .437 batting average, 52 runs scored, 12 doubles, eight triples and nine round trippers.
Also named a first team All-American pitcher is the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's Hayley Feindel. A third team nod a year ago, Feindel absolutely dominated in the circle, leading the nation in wins (37), strikeouts (457), shutouts (26) and ERA (0.56). The junior became the NCAA Division III all-time leader with 1,206 strikeouts, and the 26 shutouts were a Division III single season record. She also had scoreless innings streaks of 55 to start the season and a career-best 75 innings later in the season.
The first team right side of the infield includes first baseman Brooke Smitherman of Mississippi College and second baseman Jackie Mangola of Ohio Northern University. Smitherman, just a freshman, was named to the American Southwest Conference first team after leading the Choctaws with a .448 batting average, including 15 doubles and 10 home runs. Mangola picks up her second straight first team nod after being named the OAC Player of the Year for the second straight season. The junior has program single season records in home runs and walks and is currently second in the nation in home runs (21) and on-base percentage (.627), while batting .491.
Rounding out the first team outfield are Lesley Guenard of Wheaton College (Illinois) and Amanda Lievanos of University of Redlands. Guenard was named the CCIW Player of the Year after posting a .424 average and setting school records with 44 runs scored and 17 doubles. The junior has the Wheaton career record in doubles (42) and is threatening in several other offensive categories. Lievanos was the SCIAC Player of the Year as a freshman, leading the conference in five offensive categories including average (.473), runs scored (58) and home runs (10). She had 70 base hits, 16 doubles and drove in 54 runs for the Bulldogs.
To view all of the 2011 Louisiville Slugger/NFCA Division III All-American teams, click here.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's Jessica Stang was named to the final first team at-large spot. This is her second straight first team nod after leading the Warhawks with a 21-7 record and 1.55 ERA. The senior had 216 strikeouts in 185.2 innings pitched while opponents batted just .187 off her.