STARKVILLE, Miss. – After a season that was marked by surprising ups and downs from several teams across the country, a great deal of parity was demonstrated in the 2012 NFCA Division III All-Region awards, announced today by the Association.
A total of 77 teams placed at least one student-athlete on the first-team all region squad, which makes those players eligible for All-American. The West region saw five first-teamers from Linfield, who for the first half of the season held a tight grip on the No. 1 ranking and will be making its third straight appearance at the national championship. The Wildcat battery of Karina Paavola (pitcher) and Emilee Lepp (catcher) was joined by infielders Staci Doucette (1B) and Karleigh Prestianni (3B).
Two regions saw schools with four first-teamers apiece, including Luther, who plays in the Pella, Iowa, regional championship today, in the Midwest and Tufts in New England. Luther pitcher Becca Girvan and outfielder Shari Huber were joined by at-large selections Kellsey Kittleson and Lauran Snyder, while Tufts's first-teamers included its battery and right side of the infield – pitcher Allyson Fournier, catcher Jo Clair, first baseman Lena Cantone and second baseman Emily Beinecke. The Jumbos will make their second national championship appearance in four years after Fournier threw a two-hit shoutout in the Mansfield, Conn., regional championship.
Salisbury in the Atlantic and DePauw in the Central both placed three athletes on the first team. Yet another battery in Salisbury's Erika Brittingham (pitcher) and Michelle Gravdahl (catcher) were joined by shortstop Hannah Mills on the first team. Catcher Amy Hallet, third baseman Holly Paris and at-large selection Jen Kosinski paced the Tigers in the Central region.
In two regions, two teams shared the honor of three players on the first-team squad, including Wisconsin-Whitewater and Wisconsin-River Falls in the Great Lakes and Emerson and Cortland State in the Northeast. River Falls, who is Luther's opponent in the Pella regional championship, first-teamers included pitcher Rose Tusa, second baseman Hayley Buchanan and utility player Amanda Ryder, while conference foe Whitewater's selections included catcher Emily Epifanio, shortstop Laura Eichenold and outfielder Amanda Mertes. In the Northeast, Emerson pitcher Kelsey Tuthill was joined by third baseman Bianca Buono and outfielder Brittany Rochford, while Cortland State's bids included second baseman Lucia Meola, outfielder Meaghan Kohler and utility player Abby Martin.
The East region saw first team honors spread out amongst the largest number of teams at 12, with the maximum number of players from one school on the first team being two. Catcher Cassie Ernst and utility player Jenn Dalickas were Moravian's selections, while Messiah's were outfielder Jaclyn Merkel and designated player Sarah Seneca. Both of Rowan's first-team nods were at-large selections in LeAnne Miller and Lauren Davis.
The Division III national championship begins this Friday in Salem, Virginia, and NFCA Division III All-Americans will be announced Thursday at the NCAA championship banquet.