11 members of the Lone Star Conference Champion Lady Buffs of West Texas A&M were honored for their performance on the diamond and in the classroom on Thursday night as the league announced their annual postseason softball awards at a banquet inside of the Alumni Banquet Hall of the WT campus heading into the start of the 2016 LSC Championship tomorrow at Schaeffer Park.
The Lady Buffs claimed their third straight LSC Title almost three weeks ago as they finished the regular season with an overall mark of 50-2 with an incredible 30-2 mark in LSC play to set a new conference record for league wins in a season. It marks the second time in program history that the Lady Buffs have reached the 50-win plateau in the regular season with the other coming back in 2014 (50-4) when WT claimed the NCAA DII National Championship.
Lacey Taylor, Kilee Halbert, Stacey Ramirez, Allie Smith, Ashley Hardin and Tori Bayer were named to the All-LSC First Team while Brittany Cruz, Brittany Gehle and Shea Ibrahim picked up Second Team honors. Freshmen Shayne Starkey and Kourtney Coveney were named to the Third Team while Halbert, Gehle and Ibrahim were all named a Golden Glove selection at their respective positions.
Halbert was named the LSC Pitcher of the Year as the sophomore the right hander is 21-1 in the circle with a 2.10 ERA, tossing 15 complete games and three shutouts in her 26 appearances with 25 starts this season. The Dalhart, Texas native has registered 110 strikeouts in her 136.2 innings of work this season with an opposing batting average of .243. She is second in the South Central Region in victories (21) and ERA (2.10). She becomes the second Lady Buff to claim LSC Pitcher of the Year honors joining Rita Hokianga (2014).
Ibrahim, the 2016 LSC Newcomer of the Year, has been a staple in the heart of the WT lineup during her junior campaign following a standout junior college career at the College of Southern Idaho. The South Jordan, Utah native is hitting .338 this season with 14 doubles and nine homeruns to drive in 45 RBI and collect 91 total bases for a slugging percentage of .615 while walking 26 times for an on-base clip of .443. The junior stepped into the hot corner roll for the Lady Buffs and never looked back as she has registered 35 putouts and 79 assists with just six errors for a fielding percentage of .950. Ibrahim becomes the fourth player in program history to be named the LSC Newcomer of the Year joining Rita Hokianga (2014), Sarah Blair (2010) and Kasey Henderson (2009).
Cruz, the LSC Freshman of the Year, has put together one of the best freshman campaigns in WT history in 2016, she is hitting .361 on the season with 13 doubles, three triples and 13 homeruns to drive in 61 RBI to tie for a lead in the league while tallying 111 total bases for a slugging percentage of .755 while walking 15 times for an on-base clip of .407. The New Braunfels, Texas native has been a force in the outfield for the top ranked Lady Buffs, registering 49 putouts and seven assists for a fielding percentage of .903. She becomes the fourth LSC Freshman of the Year in program history joining Smith (2015), Allie Cranfill (2012) and Kaitlyn Witte (2008).
Kevin Blaskowski picks up his third LSC Coach of the Year honor (2010, 2014, 2016) as the Valley City, North Dakota native has turned WT Softball into one of the premiere programs in all of Division II Softball. Now in his 11th season in Canyon, Coach B has led the Lady Buffs to four LSC Championships including the last three while compiling an overall record of 416-232 (.642). Blaskowski reached a career milestone earlier this season as he claimed his 750th career win back on March 20th in Commerce, he is now 768-509 (.597) in his 24-year career to become the 30th coach in Division II history to reach the milestone and he is one of 14 active DII coaches with at least 750 wins.
On the academic side, Halbert becomes the first Lady Buff in program history to be named the LSC Academic Player of the Year as the Dalhart native holds a perfect 4.0 GPA in Nursing. She is joined on the All-Academic Team by Smith and Bayer who is honored for her efforts in the classroom for the second straight season. To be eligible for LSC academic honors, student-athletes must carry at least a 3.30 grade point average and have reached sophomore status both athletically and academically.The Academic Player of Year award and All-Academic Team are selected from the list of academically qualified players, with the league’s sports information directors voting on the basis of both academic and athletic achievement.