All-NACC Softball Awards Announced

The NACC announced its major award winners Thursday morning.
The NACC announced its major award winners Thursday morning.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. ( --- The Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) has announced its major award winners and all-conference team for the 2019 softball campaign. Wisconsin Lutheran College senior Abby Mahsem earned her second straight NACC Pitcher of the Year honor, while Aurora University senior Elaine Walker was named the league's Position Player of the Year. Gina Followell of Concordia University Wisconsin capped a superb rookie season with NACC Freshman of the Year accolades, while her coach, Steve Crook, was selected by his peers as the league's Coach of the Year. All awards were voted upon by the league's head coaches.

Mahsem leads all NACC pitchers with a 1.73 earned-run average and 132 strikeouts. She has posted a 12-10 record in 142 innings over 24 appearances, including 19 starts, and also has a save. She has a pair of 10-strikeout performances to her credit in NACC play - March 31 against Alverno and April 24 against Lakeland while just missing the mark on three other occasions. Opponents hit just .246 against Mahsem, who averages 6.51 strikeouts per outing. She also has seven shutouts to her credit this season.

Walker, a shortstop, is one of the league's top hitters. In 22 NACC games, she hit .520 while posting league-leading totals in hits (39), RBIs (26), total bases (65) and a NACC-best .867 slugging percentage, while ranking second in batting average, runs scored (24), home runs (6) and on-base percentage (.576) and third in doubles (8). Overall, Walker has posted a .503 batting average in 40 games, second among NACC players, while leading all league players in hits (72), RBIs (42) and total bases (115). She recorded at least one hit in 34 of 40 regular-season games and had multiple hits on 24 occasions. Walker also has 13 multiple-RBI games to her credit this season. As of May 1, Walker's hit total leads NCAA Division III.

Followell has posted a 10-4 mark with a 2.04 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 21 appearances (17 starts) as the Falcons' usual game one starter. She ranks third amongst NACC pitchers in strikeouts but tops the list in strikeouts per game at 7.66. Followell has twirled four shutouts this season. While she is yet to hit double-digit strikeouts in a single game, she has posted nine Ks on four separate occasions and has punched out seven or more eight times.

Crook, in his 20th season at the helm of the Falcons, led CUW to its first NACC regular-season crown. The Falcons also won the 2002 Lake Michigan Conference title under his tutelage. In league play, CUW led the NACC in every major offensive category - runs (153), hits (224), batting average (.361), on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.557), stolen bases (54), doubles (44), home runs (24), RBIs (146) and walks drawn (67). Through May 1, the Falcons rank in the top 25 in NCAA Division III in slugging percentage (15th) and home runs per game (18th, 0.88). Led by Followell, the CUW pitching staff has posted a 2.39 ERA (2.32 in NACC play) while holding opponents to a NACC-low .235 batting average.

Of the 31 all-conference honorees, NACC regular-season champion Concordia Wisconsin and runner-up MSOE each had the maximum six individuals honored. MSOE had a league-best four first-teamers, while CUW's six honorees were divided evenly between the two teams. Aurora and Marian had four all-league players apiece with three Spartans making the first team, while Wisconsin Lutheran had three individuals selected, including a first-teamer (Mahsem).

Concordia Chicago, Dominican and Rockford all had two All-NACC selections, while Alverno and Benedictine each had one individual recognized. Both of Concordia Chicago's honorees were named to the All-NACC First Team.

2019 NACC Softball Awards and All-Conference Team
Position Player of the Year - Elaine Walker, Aurora
Pitcher of the Year - Abby Mahsem, Wisconsin Lutheran
Freshman of the Year - Gina Followell, Concordia Wisconsin
Coach of the Year - Steve Crook, Concordia Wisconsin
First Team School Yr. Pos. Hometown High School
Elaine Walker Aurora Sr. SS Schaumburg, Ill. Schaumburg
Hannah Tomasko Aurora So. P Virden, Ill. North Mac
Sam Owens Aurora Sr. 1B Palos Hills, Ill. Stagg
Marita Van Dyke Concordia Chicago Sr. P/1B Brownsburg, Ind. Tri-West
Melissa Balkema Concordia Chicago Sr. SS St. John, Ind. Hanover Central
Molly O'Connell Concordia Wisconsin Jr. 1B New London, Wis. New London
Jenna Pozezinski Concordia Wisconsin So. DP Lake Villa, Ill. Grayslake North
Gina Followell Concordia Wisconsin Fr. P Romeoville, Ill. Plainfield East
Ally Fox Marian Jr. 2B Greenville, Wis. Hortonville
Peyton Loesch Marian So. 1B Bolingbrook, Ill. Plainfield East
Emily Snow MSOE Sr. C Long Beach, Calif. Millikan
Lauren Stefanczyk MSOE Fr. SS Palmyra, Wis. Palmyra-Eagle
Lorrin Pondo MSOE So. P Bolingbrook, Ill. Bolingbrook
Amanda Manssen MSOE Jr. 1B Bull Valley, Ill. McHenry West
Abby Mahsem Wisconsin Lutheran Sr. P South Milwaukee, Wis. South Milwaukee
Second Team School Yr. Pos. Hometown High School
Andie Vandertie Alverno Sr. INF Algoma, Wis. Algoma
Josie Lytton Aurora Fr. OF/C Berkeley, Ill. Immaculate Conception
Emily Moore Benedictine Jr. C Morris, Ill. Morris Community
Maddie Zazas Concordia Wisconsin Sr. SS Mundelein, Ill. Mundelein
Becky Bonnin Concordia Wisconsin Sr. OF Kenosha, Wis. St. Joseph Catholic
Sara Rosenow Concordia Wisconsin Sr. OF Kimberly, Wis. Kimberly
Gabby Curran Dominican Sr. UT Elmhurst, Ill. Immaculate Conception
Sydney Kuderna Dominican Sr. P/OF Naperville, Ill. Naperville Central
Katy Croeker Marian So. 3B Kenosha, Wis. Bradford
Lindsey Strainis Marian Sr. SS Green Bay, Wis. Ashwaubenon
Emily Wiederholt MSOE Jr. P Cuba City, Wis. Cuba City
Rachel Ziemba MSOE Sr. OF South Elgin, Ill. South Elgin
Emily Cox Rockford Jr. OF Erie, Ill. Erie
Rylee Klema Rockford Fr. P Mendota, Ill. Mendota
Karah Ritacco Wisconsin Lutheran Jr. OF Chicago, Ill. Trinity
Gracie Wilson Wisconsin Lutheran So. SS Deerfield, Wis. Deerfield
Honorable Mention School Yr. Pos. Hometown High School
Cheyenne Mathas Lakeland Fr. OF St. John, Ind. Lake Central