Wooster junior Maddy Chase (Pleasant Prairie, WI/St. Joseph's) and Wittenberg junior Chelsea Zang (Cincinnati, OH/Seton) were named the Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, to highlight the 2017 All-North Coast Athletic Conference softball team.
Zang, who is making her third-straight appearance on the All-NCAC first team, is just the second player in NCAC history to win the Pitcher of the Year award in back-to-back years, joining only Denison's Courtney Zollars who accomplished the feat in 2001 and '02. Zang was simply dominant in league games this season as she posted a 10-1 record and allowed just 11 earned runs and struck out 32 hitters in 65.0 innings of action for a 1.18 earned run average. She tossed a pair of one-hitters in conference play against Kenyon and Wooster, and posted her season-high in strikeouts in her final start of the regular season with 10 punchouts in a 4-0 win over Hiram on April 30th. Zang was also one of the Tigers' top offensive threats in the conference season, finishing the 16-game league slate with a .382 batting average (13-of-34) with three homers, two doubles, 10 runs scored and 12 RBI.
Chase, who elevated to the top team from the honorable mention squad in 2016, earned the Player of the Year award after proving to be one of the most versatile players in the NCAC over the 16-game conference season. She is the first player in program history to earn the NCAC's Player of the Year honor. At the plate, she hit .500 (26-of-52) with four doubles, two home runs, 19 runs scored and nine RBI, highlighted by a three-RBI performance in a 4-0 win over Allegheny on April 19th. Her impact was felt just as much in the pitching circle for the Scots, posting a 6-5 record and tallying one save in 12 total league appearances. In 65.0 total innings against NCAC opponents, Chase struck out 48 batters and allowed 20 earned runs for a 2.22 ERA.
Denison junior infielder Lauren Secares (Wilmette, IL/New Trier) and DePauw junior infielder Liz Getz (Bloomington, IN/South) joined Zang on the first team for the third year in a row, while DePauw junior pitcher Emma Baldwin (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park-River Forest) earned first team honors for the second-straight year after also collecting an honorable mention certificate in 2015. DePauw sophomore catcher Sidney Holler (Overland Park, KS/Shawnee Mission South) was also a repeat selection on the top team.
Wittenberg senior infielder Casey Hobbs (Fairborn, OH/Carroll) was named to the top team for the second time in her career after also earning the distinction in 2015. She is now a four-time All-NCAC honoree after collecting honorable mention certificates in 2014 and again in 2016.
After being named to the second team in 2015 and '16, Ohio Wesleyan senior infielder Taylor Dickson (Baltimore, OH/Liberty Union) made the jump to the first team this year, while classmate Ashley Day (Plain City, OH/Jonathan Alder) elevated to the top team this year from the 2016 second team.
Denison sophomore outfielder Laura Bagan (Winnetka, IL/New Trier) was named to the top team this year after collecting honorable-mention laurels a year ago, while DePauw senior infielder Gabby Smart (Chicago, IL/Trinity) was a first-team selection this season after being named to the honorable mention team as a freshman in 2014. In addition, Wittenberg sophomore designated player Abby Curnutte (Urbana, OH/Urbana) makes her All-NCAC debut on the first team this year.
Wittenberg freshman catcher Cassidy Rowe (Columbus, OH/Hillard Davidson) was named the 2017 NCAC Newcomer of the Year by vote of the league coaches after hitting .406 (13-for-32) with two doubles, one homer, 10 runs scored and three RBI in 13 conference games. Rowe, who was also named to the All-NCAC second team, also threw out 60 percent of the would-be base stealers and tallied 44 putouts in conference action. Rowe is now the fifth-straight Wittenberg player to earn the NCAC Newcomer of the Year award.
Finally, Wittenberg head coach Laura Matthews was named the 2017 NCAC Softball Coach of the Year by a vote of her peers for the first time in her career after she led the Tigers to their first NCAC regular season title since 2000 with a 15-1 record against league foes. In five total seasons at the helm of the Tiger program, Matthews has compiled an overall record of 128-57 (.692), which includes a 60-20 (.750) mark in regular season conference games.
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