SSU HOF inducts 3, ‘96 softball


PORTSMOUTH — The Shawnee State University Athletic Department inducted its 2024 Hall of Fame Class on Sunday afternoon.

The newest three individual members of the Hall of Fame — Adam Schroeder, Sara Armstrong and Kelli Smith — along with the newest team, the 1996 NAIA National Runner-Up softball squad, were all inducted into the SSU Athletics Hall of Fame, in a ceremony that was held in the Morris University Center Ballroom.

Adam Schroeder

A five-time NAIA National Qualifier between cross country and track and field, and a 2012 NAIA All-American in cross country, Shawnee State’s Adam Schroeder proved himself as one of the first great track and field athletes – helping the outdoor track and field program grow from its infancy – while also continuing the longstanding legacy of the cross country programs at SSU.

Schroeder was ultimately named as a first-team All-Mid-South Conference runner in each of his four cross country seasons at Shawnee State, and graduated as the sixth-fastest cross country runner in program history — while qualifying for the NAIA National Championships three times.

The men’s cross country program won the MSC Championship in each of his four seasons from a team standpoint.

In track, Schroeder was an NAIA National Finalist in both the 5,000-meter run (2012) as well as the 10,000-meter run (2014), and won the MSC Championship in the 10,000-meter run twice — in both 2012 and 2014 as well.

A stellar scholar-athlete as well, Schroeder was a multi-time Academic All-Mid-South Conference and NAIA Scholar-Athlete honoree.

He later coached cross country at Northwest High School, and guided the Mohawks’ back-to-back qualifications for the Division II state cross country meet (14th-place in 2019 and 11th-place in 2020).

Sara Armstrong

A four-time NAIA National Qualifier herself between cross country and track and field, and a 2011 NAIA All-American in cross country, Shawnee State’s Sara Armstrong is one of the most complete cross country and track and field athletes in program history — regardless of era.

A three-time NAIA National Qualifier in cross country, Armstrong improved her finish in each and every season she qualified for the NAIA National Championships, finishing 164th in 2008, 71st in 2009 and 24th in 2011.

Armstrong also won the Mid-South Conference’s Runner of the Year honor in 2010 — Shawnee State’s first year in the MSC — and was a two-time MSC Champion from a team perspective in 2010 and 2011, while earning first-team all-MSC honors as an individual in both of those seasons.

In track, Armstrong quickly trailblazed a way for the infant outdoor track program.

The same year that Shawnee State began sponsoring the sport, Armstrong won the 2011 Charlotte 49er Classic’s 5,000-meter run, and in 2012, she fared even better — as the senior talent won the MSC Championship in the 1,500-meter run, earned first-team All-MSC accolades as a result of that victory, and qualified for the NAIA National Championships in the 1,500, where she finished 10th.

Kelli Smith

Selfless would be the proper word to describe Kelli Smith, who took on any role asked of her throughout her four seasons inside the Shawnee State women’s basketball team – whether it be a supporting cast or a lead role.

Essentially a four-year starter, Smith made 138 three-point field goals across three seasons, posted no less than 40 assists in a single season, and averaged at least 2.6 rebounds in each of her first three years.

She was a reliable two-way threat — who complimented the likes of Erica Hayes, Brandi Baker-Damron and Brandi Munn exceptionally well.

This led to Shawnee State claiming a 31-2 record – and Shawnee State’s first-ever national championship with the women’s basketball program, winning the 1999 NAIA National Championship.

Hayes, Munn, and Carrie Brisker-Purcell all graduated off of that unit, but Smith prevented SSU from having a falloff.

Playing and starting in all 30 contests the next season, Smith was tremendous as the talented Chesapeake native averaged 17.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals on 45.8-percent shooting and 39-percent from three-point range — leading Shawnee State to a 28-2 record, and a second round berth in the NAIA National Tournament.

As a result of the above numbers, Smith was named as the 1999-2000 American Mideast Conference Player of the Year and a 1999-2000 first-team all-AMC honoree — as well as a 2000 NAIA All-American.

Smith ultimately finished with 1,194 points for her college basketball career, made 206 three-pointers, and started 98 out of the 111 games that she played in.

1996 SSU Softball Team

One of the most successful teams in the history of Shawnee State University Athletics, the 1996 NAIA National Runner-Up unit was, in a simple word, loaded.

Accumulating the fifth-best single-season winning percentage in NAIA history, the ‘96 softball unit’s seven HOF members are second only to the Shawnee State women’s basketball program’s eight.

Kim White was a four-year NAIA All-American, including first-team NAIA All-American honors in 1996, and proved how impactful she was by earning NAIA Tournament MVP honors — despite not being on the national championship-winning unit.

White’s efforts led to SSU as well as an NAIA Hall of Fame induction, the latter of which came in 2004.

But in addition to White, Leah Fickell, Kari Koehn, Renee Walls Davis, Tiffany Shanks-Moore and Brandi Rose Zimmerman were all named to the Shawnee State Athletics Hall of Fame as players — while the famed head coach of that 1996 national runner-up unit, Ralph Cole, nabbed SSU Hall of Fame honors as a coach.

In all, White, Walls Davis, Shanks-Moore, Rose Zimmerman, Amy Evans and Marie Chapman all earned first team Mid-Ohio Conference honors in 1996 — while Fickell, Koehn and Missy Lawson Cunningham were second-team all-MOC honorees.

Keri Davidson was named as an Honorable Mention talent for the squad.

White was named the MOC Player of the Year, while Cole was named as the MOC’s Coach of the Year.

In addition to White earning first-team NAIA All-American honors, Rose Zimmerman was named as a first-team NAIA All-American, while Shanks-Moore was named as a second-team NAIA All-American.

Rose-Zimmerman, Shanks-Moore, Fickell and Koehn each joined White on the NAIA All-Tournament Team.

In all, six players who were NAIA All-Americans played on the team.

In addition to White, Rose Zimmerman, Shanks-Moore, Koehn, Lawson Cunningham and Walls Davis were all-named All-Americans in their careers.

Walls Davis was an NAIA All-American in 1995, Rose Zimmerman and Shanks-Moore were NAIA All-Americans in 1996, Lawson Cunningham was an NAIA All-American in 1997, and Koehn was an NAIA All-American in 1997 and 1998.

The legacy with the group continues today — as several of the individuals have had kids of their own who have made a large impact on athletics either in the Scioto County landscape, the Shawnee State landscape, or both.

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