Eight different Northwestern State softball players earned All-Conference honors announced by the league on Monday afternoon.
Freshman hurler Sage Hoover led the group with the Southland Conference’s Freshman of the Year honor to go along with her first-team selection. Right fielder Laney Roos, the Lady Demons’ top hitter by average all season, joined Hoover with a first-team honor in the outfield.
NSU had a pair of upperclassman land on the second team with first-time selections for pitcher Bronte Rhoden and designated player Alexis Perry.
Also earning their first all-Southland honors were third-team members Taylor Williams (2B), Tristin Court (C), Makenzie Chaffin (OF) and Bailie Ragsdale (OF).
Hoover finished the season as the top strikeout pitcher in the conference with 163 in 25 appearances and a 9.5 K/7 average, the 30th best rate in the NCAA. Her 163, and counting, strikeouts are the most for a pitcher under head coach Donald Pickett.
She threw a no-hitter against UIW (April 22), had 10 appearances where she struck out eight or more batters and threw 10 complete games including a 12-inning performance where she struck out a school record 18 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (April 8)
She is the third Lady Demon to earn Freshman of the Year for NSU (Jessica Holaway Nicole Martin) and the first to do so in 20 years. She is the second individual award winner under Pickett joining Mikayla Brown who was named Pitcher of the Year in 2015.
Roos led the Lady Demons in nearly every offensive category this season. She slashed .358/.467/.480 with 53 hits, 10 doubles, 27 runs scored with on the season and the fewest strikeouts, 11 in 148 at bats, all tops on the team.
She had a career-best 11-game hitting streak that included the first seven games of the conference schedule and five straight multi-hit games where she went 12-for-19 (.632) at the plate.
Rhoden tallied a 4-1 mark in conference games for the touted NSU pitching staff allowing just six earned runs in more than 28 innings of work and holding opponents to a .198 batting averaged. Her 1.47 conference ERA was the third lowest among qualifying pitchers and her 2.20 overall ERA was the fourth lowest in the league.
After returning to action in the conference-opening series at HBU (March 25), Perry was one of the most clutch hitters in the NSU lineup.
She launched a walk-off home run in the eighth inning to beat Nicholls the next week, two days after driving in a late run in the win against Louisiana Tech, delivered the winning run in the 12-inning game at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and drove in the only run of the game in the no-hitter win over UIW.
Fellow NSU outfielders Chaffin and Ragsdale join Roos on the all-conference list putting all three NSU outfielders on a team.
The freshman from Lone Oak, Texas, Ragsdale hit .303 for the season from the leadoff spot tying for the second most hits on the team with 46 with the second best on-base percentage (.350). Chaffin finished fourth on the team with 20 RBI and a .267 batting average.
Hoover and Ragsdale give NSU two freshmen all-conference honorees, the most of any team in the conference.
Williams hit .264 on the season at second for NSU and led the team with eight stolen bases. She reached base in each of the first 10 conference games of the season, part of her career-long 17-game on-base streak, scoring 11 of her 26 runs on the season, second most on the team, in those game.
Williams and Court helped lead a defensively strong infield where Williams committed just five errors in the most chances of any infielder not playing first base and Court ended the season with just two errors in more than 360 chances while throwing out 14 attempted base stealers, the 19th most in the NCAA this year.
Court was behind the plate for every inning of the conference schedule helping manage the Southland’s top pitching staff.
The Lady Demons being the Southland Conference Tournament on Tuesday afternoon at 12 p.m. against UIW.
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